There’s been a lot of victory going around in the last few days, not the least of which was a few minutes ago when Geoff and I finally conquered the Massachusetts version of the ACA website. In the spirit of the season, it’s time to share some good news.
On December 19th New Mexico became the next equality state and declared marriage equality for all. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t expecting it. I know New Mexico is more liberal than neighbor Arizona, but I thought this was a long way off.
Then, the very next day, I got an email from Courage Campaign. Here’s a quote:
Sometimes the most courageous thing you can do is ask your friends to go the extra mile. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was on our side in demanding that the National Guard provide benefits to same-sex married couples in EVERY state — in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — but thanks in part to an extra push from Courage Campaign members like you, he got it done. Now all military men and women serving our country can receive the full benefits they have earned and are entitled to under the law! National Guard bases in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia have begun processing spousal benefit applications for ALL service members after months of refusing to comply with the federal mandate.
That’s right, even the Hate States have to comply with Federal Law. Ha!
Then later that same day, another email, this one the most shocking of all.
Rumor has it that the judge, an Obama appointee, cited Scalia’s DOMA dissent in his decision against the Utah law. Oh, the schadenfreude.
And then there’s our victory. Geoff and I have been battling with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since June of this year over our health insurance. We are in that pool of people who don’t have a job that offers us health insurance. So, we apply for it through the state, pay our premiums to the state, and get our insurance that way. Because of our income our insurance, premiums are subsidized. We’re on Medicaid.
But, back in June when we re-applied for a new year somebody somewhere made a mistake and it wasn’t us. They overestimated our income by a lot. Something along the lines of $12k/year. When you make as little as we do, that pulls you out of the subsidized care pool pretty fast. We were denied Commonwealth Care and told to find our own insurance to the tune of about $700/month. Each. We’ve been fighting ever since to get things fixed.
On Friday we finally had a hearing with a state representative. He took one look at our records (and the fact that I’d walked in armed with every pay stub either of us had earned since the beginning of 2013) and told us immediately that we never should have been denied, never should have been called into a hearing, etc. The kicker? Somebody somewhere cut off our insurance on 11/30/13 without telling us and we found out after we’d incurred some pretty serious medical bills.
This is not an indictment of the ACA/Obamacare, etc. The people we met with on Friday were, to a person, superbly helpful, knowledgeable, competent, and nice. This is an indictment of what happens when agencies, departments, and bureaus won’t talk to one another. It is what happens when legislation gets crafted to make lobbyists happy and not to actually function the way logic would suggest. People like us fall through the cracks. We were, despite working multiple jobs and all the other hell we’ve been through, able to keep fighting to get our health care back. If it hasn’t happened already, someone else won’t be able to, and they’ll die because they can’t get the care they need. They’ll die because somebody somewhere moved a decimal point or pressed the big red button that says DO NOT PUSH and did something stupid to their record.
If anything, our long, drawn out, and hard-fought victory is an argument that we take this even further. We need single payer health care and we need a leaner, meaner, streamlined bureaucracy where departments talk to one another and basic math mistakes don’t keep people from getting health insurance.
Here’s to the next victory,