It may sound cheesy in this polarized, chaotic and cynical political moment, but public office is not about doing what’s easy. It’s about service. In voting to pass the ACA, I made a long-term bet that it would save lives well worth the short-term political costs.
My father, Vito, practiced as a pediatrician in Charlottesville, Va., for more than 35 years. During the 1994 healthcare debate, he opposed the Clinton administration’s proposed reforms. Then he spent years bemoaning the status quo. He said businesses and insurance companies were making all the decisions and getting in his way.
In early 2009, in one of my final conversations with him before he died suddenly, he shared his hope that President Obama would dare to tackle healthcare reform again. A year later, I wore one of my father’s old suits to cast my vote to ensure that every American had access to affordable, quality health insurance.
The ACA was not perfect, but it made coverage available to 49,000 residents of my district and ensured that every constituent who already had private insurance would no longer face lifetime or annual caps on coverage. Mental health coverage and maternity and postnatal care would be guaranteed, along with universal access to contraception.