Evidence That Your Vote Counts: 509 Voters in New Hampshire Probably Saved the Affordable Care Act

A friend of mine has a son with hemophilia. The equation is stark: without routine treatment, her son dies. Monthly cost out-of-pocket would be about $12,000. You can hit a lifetime cap very fast, at that rate, and you’ll never get coverage after that without the current ban on refusing care to people with pre-existing conditions.

I have several pre-existing conditions, one of which is cancer. At the moment, my most costly medical cost is screening to see if it has come back. So far, so good. If my family lost healthcare, I’d have to wing it and hope for the best, and if it came back, we’d probably catch it too late. Unlike last time, when I had healthcare. My other healthcare costs are minimal.

For now. That could change, of course, with one careless driver. I recall one accident I investigated where a driver crossed the center line (probably because she dozed off) and took another car head-on. She was fine. The other driver, a man, had two broken hips, among other traumas, and was screaming such that another officer who showed up shortly after I did thought that it was a woman whom the EMTs were extricating.

That man could be any of us. That could be in your future.

But that’s hypothetical. My friend’s child is anything but hypothetical. He exists.

I met him when his mom took him roller skating. He seemed like a nice kid. But, of course, that’s neither here nor there; he is a human being with inherent worth and dignity, and he is too young to look out for himself, and he has a medical condition which, treated appropriately, will enable him to live as long as any of us can reasonably hope for.

The prospective repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems beyond heartless, in that context. It seems like purposeful evil.

It’s not, of course. It’s commonplace, banal indifference coupled to a desire to lower taxes on those best able to pay taxes.

Well, Mitch McConnell sure was persistent, but in the end, the Republicans didn’t have the votes to repeal the ACA. One big reason was that the Republican majority in the Senate is so slim. One fewer Democrat and one more typical Republican, and that would have been a net of two more votes in favor of repeal.

In New Hampshire, Democrat Maggie Hassan beat Republican Kelly Ayotte by 1017 votes.

I have nothing against Kelly Ayotte. In fact, I have a personal connection which disposes me to think well of her, and on a personal level, I do. She was New Hampshire’s Attorney General during my law enforcement career. My friend and colleague Bruce McKay started his career just a month or so after I did, in the same department, and years later was killed in the line of duty. When we marched to honor him on a foggy day in the north country, Kelly Ayotte was among those who spoke, and I’ve never forgotten it.

But I didn’t vote for her. She is a Republican, and while Republicans have gotten my vote in the past, and may someday get my vote in the future, no Republican got my vote in 2016. Because I thought it was pretty clear what kinds of policies they would enact, and because they had decided to support Donald Trump for president. People who want power badly enough to line up behind a person like Trump don’t get my vote.

So I voted for Maggie Hassan.

Senatorial elections are statewide. There’s no such thing as the Electoral College, or a “winner-takes-all” county. It’s a simple head-count. Here’s how it turned out:

Maggie Hassan: 354,649 votes
Kelly Ayotte: 353,632 votes

1017 votes apart. If 509 voters who voted for Hassan had voted for Ayotte instead, Kelly Ayotte would have been a US Senator yesterday, when they tallied the vote on the ACA.

That’s smaller than the number of people at a high school football game. If you have a good set of lungs, you can reach that many people with a shout, downtown in a city. That’s a hair’s breadth. That’s 0.1436% of the vote. Less than a fifth of one percent.

So, to all who are looking at a foreseeable future of having healthcare, you’re welcome. It was my privilege.

Because I’m more than a citizen: I am a voter, so my vote counts.

And so does yours.

If you vote.

Grace

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