Affordable Care Act, healthcare, Michigan, Michigan Democrats — August 20, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Personal experience fuels Michigan Senate candidate Deb Havens’ healthcare advocacy


This Democrat knows first-hand that getting the right care at the right time can be life-saving.

When Deb Havens entered the race in Michigan’s 28th State Senate District, healthcare access wasn’t at the top of her issues list. The former educator was heavily focused on safeguarding the public school system and everything that once made Michigan the envy of other states, from high employment rates to an abiding respect for the state’s natural resources.

But two months into her campaign, Havens found another issue to champion: healthcare access for all. That’s because she was diagnosed with breast cancer during a routine mammogram. Havens’ doctor recommended a double mastectomy, and said the cancer was caught so early that after surgery she’d be fine, with no need for chemotherapy or radiation.

Knowing she wouldn’t face a long, difficult treatment, Havens decided to stay in the race — but with a deeper understanding of the importance of quality healthcare.

It became clear to me that we must make sure everyone has access to healthcare that can be as powerfully preventive as mine was. Cancer can hit anybody, and if you’re not in a position to have good nutrition or don’t regularly go for checkups, if your clinic has been shut down or services have been cut back, you’re going to die without appropriate treatment at an appropriate time.

With her mastectomy and reconstructive surgery behind her, Havens is on the campaign trail with a solid vision of how healthcare can be improved for Michigan’s citizens.

“The sooner you catch whatever ailment you have, the easier it is to treat,” Havens says. “It’s not just a cancer issue. It’s important that everyone have good healthcare. For example, mothers who don’t have good prenatal care are setting their kids up for a lifetime of bad health, and it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Havens is concerned that Medicaid expansion, including the Healthy Michigan Plan, still leaves people at certain income levels without healthcare access. She’s equally worried about the lack of appropriate healthcare for veterans. Although she knows some issues must be addressed at the federal level, Havens believes they must be considered at the state level, too.

There are issues in Michigan that Havens is deeply troubled by, including seniors who are paying more in taxes under Governor Rick Snyder — and may be forced to choose between paying their bills and filling their prescriptions as a result.

She’s also worried about women’s health access, especially after the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

There will be more confusion about the kinds of comprehensive healthcare that will be available for women, and my concern is that women will be the losers. They’ll lose freedom to have some choices that should be their right. We shouldn’t be penalized for being female by having fewer choices in our coverage for our health needs.

The Hobby Lobby ruling could have a domino effect, which means legislators and voters who care about women must be vigilant. Havens applauds Senator Gretchen Whitmer and Representative Sarah Roberts for introducing bills to repeal Michigan’s abortion insurance law that would prevent some women from getting the care they need.

How many women plan on the possibility of being raped or that their pregnancy could kill them? It’s a ludicrous burden to put on families — it’s so unfeeling and lacks compassion. Fourteen percent of women will have problem pregnancies that threaten their lives. Do the legislators who supported the abortion insurance rider law understand that some women could be facing a death sentence if they didn’t think ahead to buy this rider? It’s a tragedy waiting to happen and it doesn’t have to be this way.

Working with Democratic colleagues to repeal this law is just one of the changes Havens hopes to make if she’s elected — and she believes she can win, as can many other Democrats, if their supporters vote in November.

People have the opportunity to choose. They can return these professional political candidates to office and get four more years of the same — only worse — or they can express their displeasure with what’s been going on. With a House, Senate and Governor’s Office controlled by the same party, they’ve been able to get away with running roughshod over the many people who disagree with the laws they’ve been passing. We all need to get serious about making the change we want to see in Michigan.

Deb Havens is a passionate candidate with many ideas on issues including education, jobs and equal rights. To learn more, or to lend your support, visit her website.