1. Opinion

My health is on the ballot | Column

Trump does not care about people like me, writes a minister who teaches at St. Petersburg College.

My body aches. From the moment I wake up, I am fatigued and have deep chronic pain in my muscles where even the slightest touch can cause a jolt of discomfort.

My body is used to being filled with pills and poked with shots. With the help of doctors, it functions because of medications for my fibromyalgia and insulin for my Type 2 diabetes. As a person of faith — a reverend — I’ve prayed that one day the pain will ease.

The Rev. Angela Edwards-Luckett [ Provided ]

But now, my body is being placed in the hands of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

My life depends on the Affordable Care Act. I am an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater, where I teach world religion. After grading papers and preparing for class, I make about $8 an hour. I rely on the ACA for my insurance, which covers most of my prescriptions and allows me to have affordable co-pays. My medications would cost upward of $1,000 every month without the ACA, and I simply would not be able to go to the doctor or take my medications without it.

President Donald Trump’s decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court — a jurist with a written track record of attacking access to affordable health care — is terrifying. Should she be confirmed, she could be the decisive vote for taking away health care from 20 million Americans and allowing insurers to deny coverage to 54 million Americans with pre-existing conditions like me.

Voters must recognize that Trump has pledged to kill the ACA since Day One of his presidency, without a plan to replace it. He has vowed to choose a Supreme Court nominee who was in favor of overturning the ACA and is trying to rush through the nomination ahead of a case on the ACA on Nov. 10. A group of Republican states led by Texas, and backed by the Trump administration, has asked the justices to invalidate the entire law, including provisions that expand Medicaid to low-income adults, allow children to remain on their parents' policies until age 26 and guarantee coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Trump does not care about people like me and he has been waiting for this moment. It’s worth noting that Barrett is one of the 50 people that Trump appointed to the court of appeals for lifetime appointments, of which not one is Black like me.

I chose my career path because my parents instilled in me the importance of living a life in service of others. While I only recently realized that I am working poor, I love my job and take pride in the fact that I am training moral leaders of tomorrow. I was raised in the church, and since I was a young girl, I took care of family members and was an organizer and activist in my neighborhood. My parents, who always took me with them to vote and helped me register myself on my 18th birthday, taught me to vote for leaders who best represent my values.

Barrett, a devout Catholic, should know that at its core, religion is about how you treat your fellow man. Moral leaders treat people with dignity and respect and believe we should look out for one another.

It’s time for every American to vote their conscience. We must show up in historic numbers and vote like our health care is on the ballot, because it is.

The Rev. Angela Edwards-Luckett, who lives in Clearwater, is an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College and a member of SEIU Public Service Union Florida. She wrote this exclusively for the Tampa Bay Times.