People don’t die in the emergency room!

“People don’t die when they’re sitting and waiting in the emergency room!”

Were these words truly coming out of this man’s mouth as my husband lay curled up in the fetal position, clutching his chest in the corner of a near empty ER?

“My husband pays nearly $600 a month for health insurance! What if he dies before now and when you call him–”

“People do not die sitting and waiting in the emergency room!” The receptionist interrupted before swiveling away from the microphone that allowed him to communicate through the glass window. Conversation over.

I turned on my heel, seething, as a certain quote from 60 Minutes echoed in my mind: “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die.” Ah, yes, it seemed the receptionist was taking a page from Mitt Romney’s book, and those words made it tangibly clear–to me–where not just healthcare, but America might stand in a few short weeks.

I and surely many other Americans, have concerns about the medical management in the U.S. The nonsensical amount of money one has to shell out just to have health insurance is just the beginning. My husband and I are relatively healthy people, but we dutifully pay our premiums each month knowing the alternative is much too risky. Sure Mr. Romney, we know everyone is entitled to treatment, but if you do have a heart attack, get picked up by an ambulance, are treated successfully at a hospital and don’t have insurance…well you’re probably going to wish you had died back at your apartment. If in full effect, ObamaCare would never allow such a thing to happen because it would require all Americans to acquire health insurance.

Waiting over an hour for an EKG is unacceptable, but we did. After he had ruled out a heart attack, the nurse ushered my husband into a room to wait for the doctor. As I reached over to console him, I cringed noticing some sticky substance that hadn’t been wiped off the hospital bed. On the floor was something that looked suspiciously similar to dried urine. I realized then that President Obama really gets it. He’s had these types of experiences; he’s fought with doctors and insurance companies; he’s probably even stared at a similar pool of desiccated body fluids in an ER somewhere. President Obama knows what regular Americans are going through, if he didn’t, healthcare would not be one of his top priorities. He’s passionate about the issue and passion generally stems from personal experience.

Governor Romney, on the other hand, is passionate about not raising taxes on the top 1 percent. He’s passionate about keeping healthcare the same as it’s always been; I guess when the red carpet is rolled out for you wherever you go, you don’t have bad experiences. I don’t know what’s more terrifying; hearing Romney say he’ll repeal ObamaCare on his first day in office or hearing the cheers from the Americans that actually think it’s a good idea.

Sitting in the ER, righteous indignation came over me, and I thought that if Governor Romney wants to repeal something that helps Americans and replace it with more of the same or a plan he will not even give a vague detail about, then the filthy room where I sat should be a mandatory stop on his campaign trail. He should see how much our paycheck is eaten up by premiums, how the premiums are equivalent to rent in some parts of the country. He should experience how often we are treated rudely after paying this small fortune in an industry that is supposed to be known for its compassion.
Governor Romney should have watched my husband suffer in an ER room for close to three hours before anyone even checked on him. He should have been there when my husband complained about the wait, only to have the doctor say, “You should be happy. If you had gone to Cedars, you would’ve waited six to eight hours.” The governor should have been there when my husband told the social worker that he didn’t bring any money after a $150 co-pay was demanded. Governor Romney could have whipped out his Centurion card when the same man so rudely suggested to, “just put the $150 on a credit card.” Romney should have tried to ask a question when the surgeon with the God-complex explained in mere seconds the gallbladder removal he would perform on my husband.

Romney should visit the woman who was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer, a woman that is refused stem cell treatment–the only thing that will save her life–because it is too costly for her insurance.

Romney should stop by and see the woman with MS who lies in bed day after day crying out from the agonizing pain that could be controlled if only she could afford her prescriptions.

Lastly, Romney should drop in on the sobbing twelve year old girl that broke her leg after being pushed down the basement stairs by her father. The girl that’s crying, not because her leg hurts, but because her blood tests confirm she’s pregnant, and daddy is responsible for that too. Then again, it probably wouldn’t be worth his time, surely she’s part of the forty-seven percent that don’t matter.

If Governor Romney wants to be commander in chief, he needs to understand that our healthcare system has immense room for improvement. I’m not saying that ObamaCare is the answer to all the problems in the medical industry, but don’t we at least want a president that tries? Shouldn’t our leader of the free world have to witness all the ugliness it contains? Don’t we want a president that doesn’t just wave away unpleasant problems, but acknowledges them? Don’t we deserve a president that will level with us and not one that tells us lies from his penthouse in the sky? Don’t we want a president that knows people get treated badly, that knows people die in alleys and in their apartments, and sometimes even in the emergency room, but still wants to help?

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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