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Opinion

Local hospital experience raises concern for national healthcare

Lauren A. Simenson

September 27, 2017

At the end of last semester there was a lot going on at once. For starters, my junior year was finally coming to a close, summer was almost here and the United States also happened to be embroiled in some of the first early fighting over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. I was also going to weekly doctor appointments to investigate if I had a serious pre-existing heart condition.

Before I had class for the day I would drive to early appointments, and pack my backpack and my lunch so I could leave right from my appointment to get to school and then go to work. At my appointments I would sign in with the women at the front desk for cardiology, give them my name and hand over my insurance card. Then, I would sit down to wait, and wait. While sitting in the waiting room I would watch and eavesdrop as people streamed in for their own appointments. I looked on as older couples, hooked up to oxygen tanks, hobbled in clutching walkers and canes, and moms with giant diaper bags slung over a shoulder and a toddler fastened to each hip approached the reception desk. All of these patients were asked to present their insurance card, like me, and sometimes when asked, these cardiology patients had nothing to hand over.

I had an ultrasound on my heart and a CT scan of my chest where fluid was injected into my arm to get a clearer picture of my organs. The fluid made me feel a creeping hotness, like I was blushing from my head to my toes, and made all my limbs tingle. Possibly one of the strangest tests that was conducted, however, was when I was asked to lay on my stomach on the table in the exam room for twenty minutes. After that twenty minutes had passed my blood pressure was taken on each wrist and ankle. It was a pretty expensive month.

I was very lucky that the only outcome of these tests was that it was discovered I have pretty high blood pressure. I was very lucky that I have great insurance and while I was initially worried about a potentially serious diagnosis, I never had any fear that I would not have access to medical care or that I would not be covered by insurance. I am very privileged in that regard, there are so many others who are not.

This week republicans decided to not take a vote for the most recent and rushed reiteration of their most recent “health care” plan, Graham-Cassidy. It is a huge victory, but the failed Graham-Cassidy will definitely not be the last effort put forth to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

I am just one of many who want to make sure that we do not have to endure any future health care plans put forth from those who want to strip women, people with pre-existing conditions, people with disabilities, or people who live in poverty, of health care. Going forward I am excited that the momentum of repeatedly blocking repeal and replace efforts will mean that people will keep giving their two cents about health care.

Uncharacteristically, I’m hoping that people will continue to unload on the internet, and especially to their representatives about the very important issue of health care.  It is up to all of us to make sure we voice why health care is so vital to each of our lives and why approval of any plan that resembles any of the previous repeal and replace efforts will never get past us.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.

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