Dear Moderate Republican Lawmakers: I Am You, And I Am Scared

I’m writing this letter because even those of us who are the most privileged are one catastrophe or illness away from needing government support.

Dear Moderate Republican Lawmakers:

I’m writing because I’m scared. I’m an attorney, stay-at-home mother, and wife. I’m scared by the divisiveness of America. I’m scared because I’ve read about countries where journalists are punished for speaking the truth and now I’m living in one. I’m scared because science and climate change is being denied. I’m scared of the hatred. I’m scared by the racism. I’m terrified because my husband was diagnosed with a rare blood disease, AL Amyloidosis, (most similar to a blood cancer) and if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and he loses his job, we will never be able to obtain affordable health insurance. I am scared for the millions of people who are not as privileged as you and I.

I am you.

In fact, my great grandfather was a United States senator and my grandfather was the Mayor of Denver. I am your wife. I am your sister. I am your mother. I am your daughter. I am your granddaughter. I am your friend. I was born into privilege. I am white, so I have never been discriminated against because of the color of my skin. I experienced both private and public education. I graduated from college. I interned on Capitol Hill and I went to law school. I shop at Whole Foods. We have a gym membership. We buy organic meats and vegetables. I am a stay-at-home mom. I am privileged (embarrassingly so).

I am you.

After graduating from Emory University, I moved to Washington, D.C. I interned for Senator Kennedy and worked part-time jobs to make money. I worked hard. It was 2002, I did not qualify for health insurance from any of my employers and I could no longer stay on my mother’s health plan. I applied for insurance via Kaiser and I was denied. They would not accept my application for health insurance because I had a “pre-existing condition,” “menstrual cramps.” I purchased an extremely high deductible policy that provided nothing and kept my fingers crossed.

I am you.

My husband is a physician. His father is a physician. His mother is a nurse, who chose to stay home with him. They work hard for a good life. He has no history of cancer in his family. I have no history of cancer in my family. He is a wonderful man and father. In January 2016, we were happily married, young, healthy, successful, with three beautiful children. In the spring of 2016, my husband experienced swelling in his ankles, changes in his urine, and decided to give himself some blood and urine tests. He determined there was a problem in his kidneys. He went to a nephrologist who wasn’t worried, but decided to biopsy just in case. My husband was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis, a rare, incurable, and deadly blood disease.

Our whole life changed. In August 2016, he had a stem cell transplant and was hospitalized in isolation for three weeks. His three small children were not allowed to visit him. He went on disability and COBRA, and rushed back to work as quickly as he could. Although insured and financially secure, we took a huge hit financially and emotionally but pulled through with the support of family and friends.

I am you.

My husband has an incurable, but treatable, blood disease that will require consistent bone marrow biopsies, multiple rounds of chemotherapy, and expensive medication for the rest of his life. Unlike many other Americans, we were born into privilege. We receive health insurance through his work and pay for the most comprehensive plan. Even though we do, last week I received a notice for $150,000 payment pending with our insurance plan. If my husband lost his job or couldn’t work due to illness, my family would be financially devastated.

I am you.

We were emotionally devastated by my husband’s cancer diagnosis. I still am. Everyone is emotionally devastated by unexpected illness, but Americans should not be financially devastated as well. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but it helps. An oncologist told me that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This is an issue that everyone should care about. Everyone is one blood test away from having their whole lives change.

I am you.

I’m writing this letter because even those of us who are the most privileged are one catastrophe or illness away from needing government support. I’m writing to implore Congress to not repeal the Affordable Care Act and leave millions of people in jeopardy or unable to obtain reasonably priced health insurance.

I am you.

We are the same. We love our children. We want our children to breath clean air and drink clean water. We want our children to receive a quality education. We want them to have access to quality doctors. We teach them honesty, kindness, and respect. We are proud of our country, the land of the free and home of the brave. Democrats and Republicans, fundamentally, we are all the same.

Moderate Republican Lawmakers, there is giant political capital in standing up for equality, healthcare, free speech, education, science, the arts, and the environment. You are powerful. You are the swing vote. You may be the new face of the Republican Party. There are millions of Americans waiting to support you.

Please be brave and keep America strong. We are scared and need your voice.


Justine Solot