“Sophie,” I said, “today is an important day. We need to listen to the radio news this morning because, you know what? For a long long time in this country, some people couldn’t go to the doctor. Isn’t that terrible? Some people didn’t have enough money and the doctors wouldn’t help them. Then we got a good new president, and it took him a while, but guess what? We have a new rule in this country this morning. Now doctors will help everybody!”
“Oh,” she said. “Wanna see me fold my blankie into a triangle?” So we played blanket-folding and ate oatmeal. But I couldn’t shut up about the momentous news.
“Doctors will help everybody now! Isn’t that great?”
Sophie thought about it, then said, “I feel sick. I wanna see the doctor. I wanna see my own-self doctor now.”
Maybe that’s what Republicans feared: we’ll all start becoming two-year-olds in our sense of entitlement. There’s no real way to explain it to Sophie right now — I’m not sure I myself understand all of health-care reform — but now it means that her grandmother who isn’t yet 65, and isn’t insured, finally gets the preventive medical care she needs. It means that her one-year-old friend who was born cross-eyed will not be denied coverage because of his pre-existing condition. It means that Sophie’s many relatives who are doctors may eventually get to spend less time on bureaucracy and more time on patients — free of the ethical quandary of whether to refuse treatment to someone who can’t pay. It means that Sophie herself is now free to explore jobs when she’s in her 20s, with the cushion of knowing that she can stay on my healthcare until age 27. It means that everybody now gets good prenatal care, so maybe our world will become more of a level playing field. It means that the 20,000 to 45,000 Americans who died each year due to lack of healthcare (depending on who’s counting) now will live.
It’s as if we’ve ended a war. We’ve entered the twentieth century – a little late, but better late than never. Maybe I did say it okay to Sophie: “Now doctors will help everybody.” Hooray for those courageous Catholic nuns who circumvented their own bishops and declared that the healthcare bill is the bill that supports life. Hooray for Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and parliamentary rules. Hooray for democracy, and boo on those Republicans who tried to claim that democracy is totalitarianism, that Jesus never said “Heal the sick,” that providing healthcare means killing the elderly, and all the other fear-mongering lies of this long and bitter debate. Hooray for it all being over, too.