On January 3, 2019, the 116th Congress was sworn in, with Democratic party leadership. At 4am I had yet to close my eyes, even though I had a full day ahead of me. I couldn’t sleep because January 3rd was the day we had worked for two years to reach. The day the Nancy Pelosi regained reclaimed the gave and became Speaker of the House. This was the day that ended the Republican majority in all three branches of Federal Government. We made it. Checks and balances have been brought back to the US Government.
Americans with pre-existing conditions, families with medically complex children and adults, people who are chronically ill and in need of sufficient healthcare, all relaxed just a bit, knowing that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will not be repealed by legislation for now. I was one of them. My daughter Emma, a former 28 week micro-preemie twin along with her sister Sara, relies on the protections against pre-existing condition exclusions and the lifetime coverage limits the ACA put a stop to…
When Speaker Pelosi reclaimed her gavel I breathed a little easier knowing that the Republican party agenda to repeal the ACA without a replacement cannot pass while the Democratic party leads one of the chambers of Congress. We saw that the GOP could not repeal the ACA even when Republicans held the majority in both chambers, but the devastating threat constantly loomed. With Democrats in the majority of the House, the threat has been somewhat neutralized for now. Instead of being on the defensive, we can resume and expand our plans to improve the framework and execution of the ACA instead of fighting off its demise.
I have never, in my 40+ years of life, followed politics so closely as I have over the past two years. I have never been so personally impacted or attacked by members of my own government and my fellow citizens who support an agenda that includes removing healthcare and Medicaid supports for millions of families, including my own. That is why I joined forces with the Little Lobbyists. I could not sit and remain silent as Emma’s right to access healthcare was attacked, belittled and dismissed as unimportant. My daughter is not expendable. None of our children should be thought of as a budget line item.
I was astounded when Speaker Pelosi shared credit for the Democrat’s victory with “our Little Lobbyists,” in her first speech as Speaker to House Members and the American public. When she credited part of the progress we have made during these scary and tumultuous times to the Little Lobbyists it hit a lot of us like a lightning bolt! It served as validation that the innumerable hours, late nights at our kitchen tables, butterflies as we approach the microphone to speak, or write to share stories about our families have, in fact, made a difference. In those early morning hours, between enteral tube feeds, checking ventilator settings, covering for another missed nursing shift, emergency room visits and lengthy inpatient stays, we realized that the time we have given in service of the Little Lobbyists goals have been an important part of the fight to stem the erosion of healthcare in our country.
We now have allies leading the US House of Representatives, and no greater champion than Speaker Pelosi. January 3rd was the day the landscape has changed. It was the day we have had circled on our calendars since before the midterm elections. The day everything changed.