The Notorious RBG

A few years back, I spotted Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Santa Fe Opera. She was alone, an older lady walking with purpose to her seat, where she would spend a lovely evening indulging in one of her life’s passions, opera. I do not remember which opera it was, the Ginsburg sighting overshadowed everything, the performance, the stars, the gala. Now, there is not a thing wrong with the Santa Fe Opera. Indeed, it is a delight I recommend to all even those who do not like opera. SFO is worth every minute and every penny.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a super-hero as far as I am concerned, whom I have long admired for her personal courage and her dedication to improving life for all Americans. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts put it after Ginsburg’s death: “Future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

I do recall when I saw the Notorious RBG in Santa Fe that she had had several bouts with cancer. The first in 1999 when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Ten years later during a routine check-up RBG was diagnosed with early stage pancreatic cancer.

Neither bout stopped her nor slowed her down. In RBG, the 2018 documentary about her life, Ginsburg said that her run-ins with cancer had given her “an enhanced appreciation of the joys of being alive.”

Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, RBG kept up a grueling schedule. She never missed a session until a 2018 lobectomy, the removal of a lobe in her lung, forced her to sit out oral arguments before the court. But, RBG survived her bout with lung cancer.

In January of 2020, RBG announced that she was cancer free. Alas, cancer is a devious opponent. By July, she announced that she was undergoing chemotherapy. A lesion had been found on her liver. During her last few months, RBG told her biographer that there was a positive side to her treatment for metastatic cancer of the pancreas. She got to spend more time with family.

After RBG’s death was announced, the noise could be heard on Mars. The left moaned and mourned. The right bellowed as Senator Mitch McConnell uttered promises from both sides of his two faces. Obama could not have a new justice in the waning months of his term, but America will have a new justice before Trump’s term is up.

In the meantime, the fate of Obamacare is questionable. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case on the Affordable Care Act on November 11th. Opponents want the law ruled unconstitutional. A decision is expected by June of 2021. Will there be another justice on the court to render a decision? Will it be someone of President Trump’s choosing, which could change the balance of the court to a more conservative slant, one willing to declare the health care law unconstitutional during the worse pandemic in a century?

As of September 20, 2020, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died because of Covid-19. Were their medical bills affordable, especially for those without health insurance?
Very doubtful.

The Notorious RBG survived several bouts with cancer plus other ailments. Why? She was a determined lady to be sure. She exercised, had check-ups, lived a rewarding and full personal and professional life. And, she had insurance.

What kind of health insurance do justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have. Let’s assume it is great insurance, coverage we’d all benefit from having, because it probably is. Congress should honor RBG, a woman who dedicated her life to fighting for justice for all, even while she battled cancer, by reforming health care once and for all. Affordable health care is a right, a right necessary to life.

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