Editor's note: The following article by Shireen Ghorbani, Democratic candidate for Utah's 2nd Congressional District, elicited a response by Rep. Chris Stewart. Read his article here.
I grew up without health insurance. I had a lot of ear infections as a child. I remember one in particular. I felt the pressure; the hot heavy ache; the stabbing pain. I remember somehow finally falling asleep and waking up to a wet pillow because my eardrum had burst in the night.
What I didn’t feel was the pain my mother must have experienced when deciding between taking me to the clinic and putting food on the table. My mom raised me by herself. As a single working parent, she made tough decisions all the time. She was a high school English teacher in a private school, and they didn’t offer health care. Or if it did, she couldn’t afford it. She always knew where every dollar in her paycheck would go.
In 2016, I felt a deep pain again as I sat with my mom around a kitchen table and absorbed the news that she had pancreatic cancer. We had to ask ourselves questions that I know families across this state and across this country ask when facing this kind of news. What might we have to sell or do to get her the kind of care she was going to need? She was just 68. Luckily, when she turned 65 she enrolled in Medicare, a system she paid into her entire working life. Medicare was there when my family needed it most. I believe every family deserves the freedom and dignity that comes with access to affordable health care.
I am running for the United States House of Representatives, and I will not vote to increase the cost or reduce your access to health care, unlike our current representative who has voted over 40 times to take away affordable health care.
I am running for accessible and affordable health care for every American. Medicare for all is one option that I could support, and I am open to exploring others. I would prioritize legislation that reduces costs by doing simple things like allowing Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate drug prices at the federal level. I would work for greater transparency in medical billing and, importantly, would require that insurers cover preventative care.
I have yet to meet a person in my months of campaigning across this state who believes that we have health care figured out here in America. We are already carrying the burden of the cost of the most expensive health care system in the world, reflected in things like a $6,000 medical bill for 15 minutes in an emergency clinic for a simple dislocated shoulder, or a $6.80 single aspirin tablet on a medical bill.7 comments on this story
Here is my vision for the future. It’s one where Utahns are able to strike out and start new businesses because they aren’t worried about lacking health insurance. A future where small business owners aren’t burdened by ever-increasing costs of insuring their employees and are allowed to focus on innovation and growth. It’s one where a young person is able to see a therapist because they are struggling with suicidal thoughts and we have finally achieved mental health care parity in our system. It’s a future with less suffering and more care. I will work for that future every day as your congresswoman.