Lack of health care allows no mercy

Adrianna Owens

Adrianna Owens

Walking into the theater, I didn’t know what to expect. I had never seen a one-man play. I’ve never seen a play on health care, for that matter. As the lights dimmed, Michael Milligan came onto the stage to perform “Mercy Killers.” With police sirens flashing, the audience sees the image of a man, torn and conflicted.

The audience has no idea what’s going on. As a human, pity is felt, even though it is unclear what has happened to him.

The play progresses with Joe in an interrogation room as he leads up to tell the story of his life spiraling down, until he eventually crashes.We learn that his wife Jane is a hippie. She eats organic and loves nature. We learn that he is a right-wing conservative who listens to Rush Limbaugh. He watches football, drinks beer, loves his country. His wife, fairly liberal, doesn’t mind, but they end up arguing from time to time about the foundation of the U.S. government. And then Jane is diagnosed with breast cancer. They think that they can handle anything thrown at them. But as the bills pile up, the couple struggles to find any hope.

This story is told as if Joe is answering questions from a detective. But you can see that he isn’t just responding to the detective. He is trying to answer them for himself as well. To make sense of what happened.

Toward the end of the play, Joe claims he had to put his wife out of her misery. She had an allergic reaction to penicillin and she was suffering. I felt the tears welling up as I watched him reflect on the life that he once had — the life they had. He told a story of a motel they stayed in, and a nearby river they swam in. As he describes it, a smile crosses his face.

Then he says, “It’s the little things.”

And you see that he is struggling to hold on to the little things. The memories. The recollections that are slowly being boarded up. Buried under all of the pain he’s encountered.

And then it hit me.

This can happen to anyone.

The Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, which aims to make health care affordable for everyone, requires citizens to have some form of health care. After the Ted Cruz filibuster, the nation laughed at the Republican Party and the Tea Party. However, they are now laughing at the Democratic Party, Obama in particular, for the miscommunication and the problems that have surfaced with the website.

“Mercy Killers” is paired with Campaign for a Healthy California, an organization that is commited to replace private health care providers with a guaranteed health care plan for all citizens of California.

While the ACA has made history for making health insurance available to citizens, it has failed to establish one national health care plan, and instead leaves the insurance companies in charge.

Many politicians want to repeal the act, yet they want to keep certain aspects of it, such as the part that says a child can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. A positive to the ACA is that insurance companies can’t turn someone down because of pre-existing conditions. In previous years, people would try to get insurance once they found out they needed it (when they developed cancer, or any number of illnesses) and the companies would turn them away. Now, however, the act is aimed at getting everyone on insurance before it becomes too late for them.

For Jane, in “Mercy Killers,” it was too late. The cancer had spread before she had insurance. And once she was on a health plan, her rates were higher than most plans.

Before seeing this play I wasn’t sure just what to think of the ACA, and I’m still not strong in my opinion on the matter. However, I do know that what the wife went through in this play was not fictional. As I was crying in the audience, I realized that this is real life.

The need for health care is real.

And you see that he is struggling to hold on to the little things. The memories. The recollections that are slowly being boarded up. Buried under all of the pain he’s encountered.