A Letter to My Senator About Healthcare and Hope (11.14.16)

I wrote the following for the Mighty. While it is written to my Senator-elect, the message is the same for true any elected official:


Dear Senator-elect Kamala Harris,

Congratulations on your recent, groundbreaking election! You were a bright spot in an otherwise caustic election that left many, me most certainly included, troubled and anxious about the future. But this isn’t a post about politics – it’s a plea from a very concerned constituent and, a request for your partnership and advocacy for a group of citizens that is so often overlooked.

You see, I am a member of a community faced with difficult decisions every day. A citizen with an invisible, chronic illness that has permanently changed the way I live my life.

Healthcare is one of the myriad important issues that was at stake in the election, and it is certainly one I hold close to my heart. As someone who depends on multiple medications, doctors and cutting-edge therapies, I understand the necessity of an affordable healthcare system that includes options for those who may be unable to work or those that cannot obtain insurance through the workplace. I believe it is imperative that we keep in place the moratorium on denying individuals with pre-existing conditions or only offering inordinately high-priced options to this group. In addition we need to maintain the elimination of lifetime caps. Patients should never be forced to go without necessary medications or care. And no one should ever have to make the untenable (and, unfortunately, common) decision between medicine or food.

My life is filled with doctors appointments, tests and medical professionals who work hard to treat my complex and rare disease. I was recently prescribed new medication that will give me a greater quality of life, but without insurance it would be prohibitively expensive. I hope we can return to a place where I need not worry that I may not be able to take it tomorrow. Instead we should work toward a future that fosters medical innovation, research and cures for rare diseases, common illness and terminal conditions alike.

Before my illness I worked for and with the government for many years; I know how daunting and delicate preserving these principles can be. So I offer up my partnership and support of your efforts, and I thank you in advance for fighting for us: the chronically ill, the disabled, those struggling silently, invisibly and all too often without a representative or seat at the table.

In unity and with determination and hope in my heart,

Jennifer Heater