Affordable Care Act Upheld: An ex-policy chick’s change in perspective.

Confession:  I was very mad at Obama for making universal healthcare his first priority once he entered the White House.

As a newly minted policy wonk, I viewed the law as well-meaning but severely flawed on several levels.  In the face of a recession, the cost of program would be unconscionable.  There would be no assistance to small business owners who would have to choose between hiring employees and paying for the mandated benefits.  Doctors and other medical practitioners would have to endure the painful wait for medical reimbursements causing compromises in operations and thus, impacting overall efficiency.  There was no mention of increasing funding for the system’s infrastructure (new hospitals, clinics, etc.) to accommodate the massive increases in people who would now have access to healthcare.  Long waiting times would ensue for everything from heart transplants to bunion removal surgeries.

Most of all, I knew that Obama was using his entire arsenal of political capital on a policy initiative that had become so diluted from its’ initial vision that the real scope of its impact was unclear.

Then I became a mother.

At two weeks old, my son was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  He had a hole in one of his lower heart valves and due to its size; there was only a 30% chance that it would heal on its own.

At its worse, his condition could have led to a failure to thrive.  So over the first four months of his life, we could only “wait and see”.

During that time, I pondered the impact that his condition would have on him as an adult.  As someone with a preexisting condition, I wondered whether his condition would adversely affect the quality of healthcare he could receive throughout his life.  I knew that it didn’t matter how much we were willing to pay for his coverage, insurance companies would always have the option to not underwrite his policies because of his condition.  It did not seem fair.

I am happy, blessed, and grateful to God to say that his heart did in fact heal on its own.  As doctors continuously waited for his growth to slow, he remained in the 90th percentile for his age group. (Yes, as I am sure you are guessing, my son is pretty chunky.)

Yet, what the experience revealed to me is that sometimes public policy must force itself to adjudicate what we as a society feel that we CAN do versus what we SHOULD do.

So from my heart, I say thank you to the Supreme Court for making the right decision.


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  • Very happy to hear your child is ok. If more people could hear stories like this we might just see ourselves through this thing. Thanks for being open and honest!

  • Thank you Drubear!

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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at

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