Guest post by James Grissom, author of Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog, and more.
I thought for a time that Bernie Sanders might be our best option for President. I liked his radical ideas, and I believed, and still believe, that things need to be changed. But then I was reminded that some people speak well and inspire, and others actually show up and get things done. It may not be as inspirational; it may not lead to a slogan or button, but the showing up–consistently and firmly–changes lives.
In February of 2007, when I was working part-time in the bookstore of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I did not have insurance, and I did not have savings. The urologist who diagnosed me sent me to Planned Parenthood, where a female physician mapped out the treatment options for me. I was treated for a time by Planned Parenthood physicians, not the cartoon abortionists or criminals they are often said to be. The doctor at Planned Parenthood put me in touch with an oncologist who, when told of my lack of insurance or funds, treated me as a family member, telling me to remind the billing department and other personnel that I was her family member. Being labeled as such entitled me to discounts on my treatment.
It takes a woman. Or women.
I attempted to pay, as well as I could, the fees for the treatment, but the hospital chose to report me to a collection agency, which began legal action. My physician was startled, and suggested that I contact both the billing department and my senator.
The billing department told me I earned too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but I could apply for financial aid offered by the hospital. However, I was told, the collection process would continue.
I contacted the office of my senator, Hillary Clinton, and within two weeks I was speaking to someone in her office, who, at one point, handed the phone to the senator herself. “You did not enter a credit agreement with that hospital,” she told me, “so I cannot fathom why they are pursuing you as if you did. In addition, that hospital is aided by the state of New York and the federal government, so they are way out of line. You need to fight this cancer and get well: You don’t have time for this nonsense. Let me look into it.”
Within a week, the collection calls ceased, and within a month, Hillary Clinton put me in touch with two organizations offering financial aid to people undergoing cancer treatment. These organizations eliminated half of my debt, and within eighteen months, I had paid the remaining amount, without any collection activity or annoying calls.
I just re-read the letter that Hillary Clinton sent to the hospital (It was Roosevelt, if you must know), and in her indignation, she refers to me as her friend. Not a constituent, but a friend. She prevailed upon the proud history of the hospital and the medical profession to do the right thing, and adjudged the collection activity to have been an “unfortunate mistake or oversight.”
On two occasions I received letters from her, and once a phone call. The doctor from Planned Parenthood and the oncologist recommended by that organization continued to treat me at discounted rates. My friends–again female–at the Museum kept my cancer a secret, and probably saved my job.
I am now receiving treatment through insurance made available through the Affordable Care Act, and while I am cancer-free, there are still follow-up procedures that are necessary.
And yet–Hillary Clinton and Planned Parenthood are villainous, despicable, ready for defunding or defeat. I don’t understand that, and I don’t understand how we have difficulty in choosing our next President or where our donations should go. But that’s me.
That’s my time with HIllary Clinton. Sorry I looked away for a time. But now you can deal me in.