Guest Column: Health care: It’s personal — not politics

Steve Spriggs

“You need to get to Sacramento now. Your son was hit by a car on his bicycle. All I know is that he is alive, that he had emergency brain surgery and that he is in intensive care.”

These are words that no parent can prepare for.

It turned out that a 16-year-old driver had run a red light at 50 miles per hour. That was back in 2010 when our son Matthew was 22.

Today Matt has two metal plates in his skull and suffers from symptoms of the traumatic brain injury. His lower leg was reconstructed using donor cadaver bone and multiple titanium rods and wires to hold it all together. Five disks in his lumbar spine are severely damaged, but doctors say he is too young to have the discs surgically fused.

Matt lives with constant pain and his future will require extensive medical care and additional surgery. To date, his injuries have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. I am fortunate to have employer-provided health insurance that covers my wife and son at a reasonable additional cost.

My son would have been dropped from my policy when he graduated from college, but the Affordable Care Act allowed him to stay on our policy until his 26th birthday. Without it, we would be bankrupt today. Matt turns 26 in April and will be dropped from my policy.

For decades the congressional Republicans have done nothing to restrict insurance companies from insuring only healthy people. The rest of us continue to pay dearly when hospital emergency rooms provide basic health care for everyone else.

Covered California provides my son with many insurance choices that exist nowhere else. As a father, I am relieved that my son now has a way to avoid becoming a burden upon society when I am gone.

The ACA may not be perfect, but it gives us hope that our son has a shot at a future with basic health care, less pain and fewer limitations. Yet there is a vocal group of petulant Republican congressmen doing everything in their power to delay, defund and ultimately destroy what they disparagingly call “Obamacare.”

These reckless ideologues have shown that they are willing to bring down our government and to crash the world’s financial systems in order to keep millions of American citizens uninsured. These self-described “Christian Conservatives” offer nothing constructive (or Christian) to address the problems that have been destroying families for decades.

These regressive efforts are not for the greater good. This obsessive desire to undermine and kill the Affordable Care Act is not rational and it is not patriotic. These extremist representatives are trying to harm my family in a very direct and personal way. It is just plain immoral.

My own congressman wanted to appear reasonable, so he recently labeled tea party Republicans as “lemmings.” But contrary to his words, he voted in lockstep with his radical colleagues more than 40 times to prevent my son from having a healthy future. And he is fine with shutting down the government and threatening the world’s fiscal stability to prevent my son from having health insurance. He says that he is doing this for our own good.

Rep. Devin Nunes, you are wrong. Your efforts to obstruct pending laws that you do not like may be understandable in a purely political sense. But your incessant attempts to undermine a legally enacted and court-tested statute that protects my son (and millions of others) from a life of pain and poverty are unforgivable. You provide no viable alternative and seem content to let our families suffer.

This is not political to us. This is personal. This is my son’s future.