Senator Collins is no meh

Something about the timing of this health care debate has me coming to terms with stuff, like the idea of Senator Susan Collins as a hero.

I’ve always been kind of ambivalent about Senator Susan Collins. It’s not that I didn’t think she was intelligent or capable or well-composed. It’s just that, in the past, I’ve always thought of her as a default party-liner for the most part.

Someone who represented our state with class, but not an overly exceptional leader. A political meh.

Then Trump-mania takes over the executive and legislative branches in DC, and suddenly I find myself wanting to reach out to a total stranger to apologize for previous thoughts she never knew I had.

And to thank her for not partaking in whatever it is that has spread Trump-mania like a plague among some of Collins’ Republican colleagues. And to thank her for standing firm on the need for a well-developed solution to our health care situation.

And to tell Collins that her ability to stand her ground in these chaotic times is heroic. Her ability to hold her own when getting trash talked isn’t bad either.  

After years of Maine politics landing on the national mediascape for our governor’s antics, it’s been a relief to hear Collins and Senator King remind the country that Mainers are still a political voice of reason. 

I’ve been dealing with a health issue during this debate, and worse yet, I’ve recently learned a close friend has cancer. Dealing with the healthcare system for serious issues while this debate wages around me has me coming to terms with something no one wants to hear:

Healthcare is something that should not be relegated to market structures and forces. The maintenance and preservation of human life and dignity isn’t at all like finding the right hairdresser or auto repair shop.

Our lives are fleeting and precious. Preserving them should be a calling we collectively and responsibly share as a society.

My friend and his family are dealing with the facing the greatest challenge of their challenging lifetimes. Sadly, part of their challenge is arguing with their insurance company about covering diagnostic care mandated by the treatment plan.

It would be nice if this lovely family could singularly focus on my friend and supporting his healing journey, but market structures don’t allow for that. Even if it’s late-stage cancer.

That’s not right. Which is the overarching theme of all the stuff with which I am coming to terms. There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on that’s just not right.

It’s not right that one of Collins and King’s colleagues and outstanding American hero Senator John McCain is facing his own challenge with brain cancer. Like Collins, McCain’s ability to avoid Trump-mania and to speak his mind with integrity amidst chaos has been nothing less than admirable.

But it’s also not right that McCain’s wife probably isn’t fighting with insurers about his care like my friend’s wife is.

My friend and his wife might not be McCain-level American heroes, but they are heroes in their own right. They work hard and dedicate considerable time and resources to serving their community and just about anyone who may find themselves in their presence and in need.

No American, hero or otherwise, should be focusing on fighting with market structures when the focus should be fighting cancer.

I hope the heroes in DC will find a way to make that right.

Patricia Callahan

About Patricia Callahan

Trish is a writer who lives in Augusta. She has worked professionally in education and social services.