Following the cases of the U.S. Supreme Court has never been part of my regular routine. But with the King v. Burwell decision expected to come down any day now, I have taken time out of my 90-hour workweek to pay close attention to the Republicans latest attack on my healthcare.
As a home healthcare worker in North Carolina, I spend most of my time helping others live independently despite their illnesses as I work to keep my own family out of poverty. Because the pay is so low for home healthcare workers, it is not uncommon for me to work well over 15 hours a day. I sometimes work 72 hours straight, taking naps in my car before I see my next client. I work for three different home care agencies and make $10 an hour at each agency. After five years of service, I have only had one raise and don't receive medical benefits, paid vacation or sick leave. Every penny I earn goes to keep me out of the container of poverty that so many low-wage workers are forced into. I have been an active part of the growing movement of workers fighting for a $15 dollar an hour wage and union representation.
Since I don't get health insurance through my work, I looked for options through the Affordable Care Act federal marketplace. The healthcare law did exactly what it said it would, provide affordable insurance. Tax credits have brought my monthly costs to just under $95 a month. Before Obamacare, I was paying more than $400 per month and premiums kept going up. I had a pre-existing condition that made it impossible to shop around for more affordable insurance. Now, I have comparable coverage with lower premiums; I get to see a doctor; and it's been an enormous help in making ends meet.
King v. Burwell puts all that in jeopardy. The fact the case has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court only shows Republican extremists will stop at nothing to win this battle. For me, my health insurance is not about politics at all but rather about trying to stay above water in a world that seems to be pulling working families below the surface at every turn. I work very hard to ensure I will not sink. However, without my health insurance, I am just one illness away from bankruptcy--no matter how hard I work. My hope is in the next few days the justices will hand down a decision that will give me some peace of mind allowing the tax credits to stay in place.
Regardless of the decision, I'm going to keep up the fight for $15 and a union, and affordable healthcare for everyone because without the fight, we drown in a pool of poverty.