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My Story: Jo Hafford


Some years ago, I was a student at the University of Maine, studying secondary English education. I wanted to "do something," take on a career that would let me truly make a difference in the world. Midway through my education, I was diagnosed with an incurable illness. It would require medication and treatment for the rest of my life, or would result in a slow, painful death. The immediate impact was I was going to need healthcare, and lots of it. There were hoops to jump through for the specialists I needed. There were problems getting the insurance I had been buying through my employer to pay. There were problems with basic access ā€“ waits of months on end for practitioners I could see who actually took my benefits.

About six months in, I realized my pursuit of happiness through my dream of being an educator wasn't going to provide the care I needed. I found a better job with better benefits in a state with better healthcare access, and moved to Arizona. Years later, two things happened that pushed me to get directly involved again. First, my employer was bought by private equity, and then resold to our biggest competitor. I was terrified that I would lose my job. My drugs are over three grand a month. No job meant no insurance, meant certain death.

Then the Affordable Care Act passed.

There was suddenly another path forward. Being employed was not the difference between life and death anymore. A whole world of opportunity that I thought was gone forever was opened back up to me. As long as the Affordable Care Act stays on the books, this condition will never stop me from getting a job, and in just two years if I change jobs I'll have choices to get coverage that's affordable and won't stop paying once I hit some arbitrary cap. I won't give that up.

Supporting the President this election cycle is about more than left versus right, or taxes, or the cost of gas ā€“ it's a life or death decision, and Iā€™m backing the man who gave me back my life.

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