Dear Senator Portman

The following letter is going in the mail tomorrow to Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). The letter has already been emailed to his office.

December 1, 2020

Senator Rob Portman
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC  20510

Dear Senator Portman:

I am writing you (again), but this time I am writing because I believe you have the ability to learn and change your mind.  A wise person once said, “all politics is local.”  That is undoubtedly true, but it is also true that “all politics is personal.”  And I believe your political views are influenced by that to which you can relate personally.

In 2013, you changed your position on marriage equality after learning that your son is gay; you said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years. That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”  I believe some articles called your change of position “an act of love.”

Those who believe in marriage equality applauded.  Moreover, it showed that many thorny issues become clearer when they become personal.

So, let me be personal.  In 2012  my 54-year-old wife Patricia, whose health had been excellent up to that time, was diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis which caused significant liver damage. Her liver function had been impaired to such an extent that her doctors initially told us she could be “competitive” for a liver transplant. Fortunately, quick diagnosis and successful treatment followed by a daily (for life) immunosuppressant drug resulted in no need for a transplant and a return to excellent health. But this could change at any time and she may yet need a transplant.

Of course, our health insurance (through my employer) paid for much of the cost of Patricia’s hospitalization and subsequent care and medication. In 2016 I retired, initially with some residual health benefits, but knowing that we would eventually have to purchase health insurance. I was able to make the decision to retire in large part because, under the Affordable Care Act I was confident that Patricia could not be denied coverage due to her pre-existing condition. And she wasn’t – she is currently covered by an insurance policy purchased through the ACA marketplace.

In recent years the Republican party has tried time and again to “repeal and replace” the ACA without presenting even the barest outline of a plan to replace it.  Now, the current case before the Supreme Court, the majority of whom are Republican appointees, brought by Republican state attorneys general, is an existential threat to the Affordable Care Act and thus, to my wife’s access to health insurance.

Senator Portman, this is personal.

The Republican decision to eliminate the Affordable Care Act is unconscionable.  It threatens not only our family’s financial stability but also puts my wife’s life at risk and threatens our peace of mind.  Every time that threat is in the news, Patricia and I lie awake at night contemplating our financial ruin if she loses her insurance and needs a transplant.

My ask is simple:  the next time repeal of the ACA comes up for a vote, pretend it is your son who has significant liver damage from auto-immune hepatitis and that his only insurance option is through the ACA marketplace. Now imagine the worry and stress that comes when, from one day to the next, the party in power threatens to take away your son’s health  insurance coverage.  This is your son.  The son you love so much that you bucked you party’s position on marriage equality despite the pressure.  The love you had for him transcended your party politics and spoke to your humanity.  You did the humane thing and supported his rights despite your party’s position.

Now think of my wife of 34 years and tell me why she does not deserve the same consideration.  Just because she is not your relative?  Why should we suffer the anxiety, stress, and risk that the Republican Party is creating for every one of the over 20 million Americans whose only insurance option is the Affordable Care Act?

Please Senator, grant me that my love for my wife is no less than your love for your son.  Please, stand up and do the right thing. Until the Republican Party has a workable alternative, do not destroy the only protection we have. It is the humane, and human thing to do.  Consider it an act of love.

Thank you for your attention to this serious issue.

5 thoughts on “Dear Senator Portman

  1. A cogent and passionate letter – naturally. And while this letter will likely fall on deaf ears like the last, I bet it was cathartic to write just as it was cathartic to read. Thanks for sharing Dan.

  2. Dan,
    As always, persuasive writing.
    Isn’t it crazy that we still have to mix medical and financial decisions?
    I KNOW YOU AND Patricia will make sure she receives the best possible care.
    I miss you all the time brother..
    Bob Kister

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