An Open Letter to Mitt Romney
Over the past two weeks, you have stated twice that "we don't have people who die because they lack insurance." This shows how far you are removed from the difficult choices of everyday American citizens.
Your wife, Ann, has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. You have my sympathy, because I understand how difficult it is when someone you love has an uncurable illness. However, you should consider how your journey with this horrible disease is different from many other Americans who aren't blessed with your wealth.
Doctors agree that the most important part of health care for the multiple sclerosis patient is maintenance care - including prescription drugs, regular doctor visits, rehabilitation for weakened muscles and medical testing to confirm progression of the disease.
The prescription drugs in use for keeping multiple sclerosis symptoms in check cost $3,000 each per month, per drug. The fact that two or more of these drugs could be used in tandem can run the cost up to $10,000 per month. A recent article in the medical journal Neurology states that the cost of prescription drugs for each multiple sclerosis patient from diagnosis to death is at approximately $700,000. The study also goes on to explain:
Avonex, for example, cost Americans with MS about $34,000 for the year in 2010. The price in the UK was equivalent to about $12,000 -- because that's all the National Health Service will pay for the drug. And costs are only going up. Makers of the DMDs have raised their prices since last year, in response to the approval of the first oral MS drug -- Gilenya, made by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG.The annual cost of that medication in the U.S. will be about $48,000. But since it's a pill, the medication is expected to cut significantly into sales of the other DMDs. (Reuters, July 20, 2011)As the website "Global Health Safety" reports:
Due to the excessive costs of MS drugs and therapy, there are a significant number of people who can’t afford their treatment. For these individuals, their only option is to do nothing and go without therapy that would improve their quality of life or the length of the life that they have to live. Individuals not being able to get protection from this illness is kind of sad, and once people have arrived at a point where they qualify for disability insurance coverage and SSI, it’s most likely too late to reverse the damage that has been done.
So, Mr. Romney, while you can most definitely pay for any prescription drugs, rehabilitation, hospitalization or tests that your wife may need in order to keep the disease at bay, there are a "significant" number of others who can't. Some of them have insurance, but as C Steven Tucker writes on his website:
Because there are no HIPAA portability protections for individual policy holders , this uninsurable status can last for many years and sometimes for life depending on the specific pre-existing condition you have been diagnosed with. Some of the pre-existing medical conditions that render an applicant uninsurable on an individual policy are: Heart Attack, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Degenerative Arthritis and a host of other pre existing conditions. In addition, there are applicants who have a combination of controlled pre existing conditions but since they have more than three “ratable conditions” they are also labeled uninsurable.
So, once again, this is directly relational to your position on healthcare coverage. You say that you will:
Let me ask you a question, Mr. Romney - would you feel the same if you didn't have $250 billion to pay for Mrs. Romney to have the best care for her multiple sclerosis? If you had to work three and four jobs just to pay for her healthcare costs, and to make up for the cut in income because she couldn't work - would you still feel that it is acceptable to allow insurance companies to exclude those with pre-existing conditions if they haven't maintained continuous coverage? What if you only had one house, one car and five kids to support? What if you wanted to send your kids to college - but every single penny you made went to keep your wife from dying of a SYMPTOM to a nonfatal disease?
Mr. Romney - the truth is that people in the United States die every day because they don't have health insurance. The truth, a bit closer to home for you is this: THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO DIE FROM THE VERY DISEASE YOUR WIFE HAS -BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE. You, sir, with all due respect, have no respect for the people in this country who are fighting a losing battle against diseases for which there is no cure - but who can't get the help they need. You have no respect for those who give their lives to make the lives of their sick loved ones better - even a little bit better - with all of the sacrifice in their heart. Please understand, I believe in the love that you and Mrs. Romney share and I see how devoted you two are to each other and your family. However, neither of you have had to choose between paying the electric bill and buying the medicine that will keep your wife from suffering with the symptoms of her multiple sclerosis. You haven't stood beside your children's beds and wondered how you would keep them in clothes - when you have to pay a $25,000 bill from a hospital the last time your wife had an episode of respiratory failure.
This is why you are not qualified to be our President, Mr. Romney. Because you have time and time again shared your dismissal of the people on whom this country was founded - the people who work hard, pay their bills, love their families and will do without to keep them strong. By not understanding this principle, you do not understand this country. When you have never had to suffer, then you do not know what it means to pull yourself up and work your hardest to make it. When you have never had to face financial problems, you have no respect for those who do, and it is easy to dismiss them as "lazy" or "unwilling to change their lives". They are neither, and you should be ashamed for even thinking it so. If not for a change in your birth, you could be any one of them...and it might have been better for you if you had.