|Tonia McMillian, Treasurer of SEIU Local 99 and a Child Care Provider in Bellflower, introduces U.S. Senator Kamala Harris after sharing her story at a Jan. 15 rally to save healthcare.
Scroll down to watch Tonia’s moving speech at this event.
Eleven years ago, I learned I have a health condition that requires close monitoring and medication. If you have reliable health insurance, this isn’t that complicated. But for someone like me without employer-provided health coverage, it was nearly impossible to take care of myself.
I’ve lived without stable healthcare for 24 years, ever since I became a child care provider. During those years, I would sometimes sign up for health insurance just long enough to see a doctor, have a few tests done and get a prescription filled. Then I’d cancel the insurance. I just couldn’t afford it. Sometimes, it was difficult to get back on insurance because I had a pre-existing condition, but there was no way I could afford to stay on. Family child care providers like me who run daycare centers out of our homes earn as little as $4.98 an hour after our business expenses.
Twice, I required hospitalization when I didn’t have insurance. I still have those bills today. There’s nothing I can do about them and they’ve ruined my credit.
Other times when I had to visit a hospital, I would go into panic mode. The doctors would say “you need this” and “you need that”—and I had to ask how much is that? Do I have to have that? It’s awful having to say no to something that a doctor is telling you to have done. It’s scary. I sort of felt like I was betraying myself, but I simply couldn’t afford it.
Once, when I was lucky enough to have a couple months of employer-provided insurance, I had a tumor removed from my leg. But when it was time for recovery, I was on my own and couldn’t afford care. I never got the proper physical therapy treatment and I never fully recovered. My leg isn’t the same.
Basically, living without health coverage is a nightmare in this country.
People have asked me why I was such a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. When my children were small, I was able to provide healthcare for them in the Healthy Families program for $9 a month. $9. She did that. I’ve never forgotten it.
Then we elected Barack Obama and he introduced the Affordable Care Act. I call it Obamacare. I know that’s supposed to be insulting or something, but I call it Obamacare because he’s the one who gave it to me. It’s been such a relief knowing that I can see a doctor whenever I need to and I don’t have to worry about that bill.
Obamacare keeps me healthy so I can keep working.
As I’ve gotten a little but older, my medical condition has worsened. But because I have Obamacare, I can get it under control simply by stopping in at the lab to get some blood work done and then they adjust my medication. I could never afford all of that without insurance.
I’m pretty nervous about this talk of getting rid of Obamacare. I’m not really sure what I’ll do. My only option, really, is to sort of hold my breath until I can qualify for Medicare. And that’s a ways off – and there’s talk of pushing it farther away.
Please join me in calling on our leaders in Congress to stop the efforts to repeal Obamacare, which would take healthcare away from 30 million Americans. Call (866) 426-2631 today.