Kentucky Young Democrat Travis Scott penned the op-ed below for the Courier-Journal this week.
This week, my senator, Mitch McConnell, and Republicans in Congress recklessly held our economy hostage because of a law that has been invaluable to me. Risking the economy for their political games is not amusing to Americans who reap the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
In 2008, my Fourth of July weekend did not begin like I expected. I hoped I would gather with my friends and family in Johnson County. Instead, I spent most of July 4 in an emergency room with a large piece of steak lodged in my esophagus. Thankfully, an endoscopic procedure was able to remove it.
A few weeks later my eyes lit up brighter than the fireworks when I saw the bill from the hospital: My insurance carrier deemed that removing the piece of steak was not covered under my policy because of a “pre-existing condition.”
This is a term I had grown familiar with over the years — as a 28-year survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, I had discovered that, despite having been in remission with no relapses since 1985, I am still considered by insurers to be “high risk.”
After talking with my company’s insurance agent, and several people at my insurance provider, the procedure was eventually covered, but I was still stricken that, after 27 years of remission, I was still having to navigate red tape for the simplest procedures.
The term “pre-existing condition” was an albatross around my neck. It meant I couldn’t afford to start my own business, I couldn’t afford to lose my job — I couldn’t take any risk in life that would result in a gap in my coverage.
My options, both in life and in a career, would always be hindered by that God-forsaken term “pre-existing condition.”
And this was not a burden limited to me.
While I was forced to wade through oceans of red tape, the denial of coverage has cost many other Americans their financial security, health, and in some cases, their lives. There was a whole class out there of us: men, women, and children, all whose health was deemed expendable because we had been sick once in our lives.
To think that some in Congress want to hold our health hostage for political gain is sickening.
We live in a country that has been blessed more than most.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in our Declaration of Independence, our Creator endows us with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
For too long, too many of my fellow Americans have been denied those rights because we were considered “high risk,” and some in Congress recklessly continue in their attempts to deny us those rights.
This is just one of many benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and I’m urging people all across the country to enroll in the health exchanges that opened last week so they won’t be denied coverage like I have been.
Health insurance is essential for all.
Travis Scott is a sales executive and 28-year survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. A regional director for Young Democrats of Kentucky, he resides in Johnson County.