An Open Letter to Sen. Mike Lee

Dear Sen. Lee,

I’m writing to introduce you to this lovely lady – my mother and your constituent.


She’s a 16-year breast cancer survivor and a true member of the middle class. She has worked hard her entire life, having more jobs than I – or even she – can count. (I know because we tried one time.) She’s always followed the rules, paid her taxes, volunteered her time and given what disposable income she could spare to people and causes that make her country and state, and yours, a better place.

She’s raised three wonderful children (if I do say so myself!) who are also hard-working and contributing members of society. None of us are wealthy, but we are financially stable. And we, too, follow her example to share what we have with others.

Mom is also – and I’m sure you saw this coming – uninsured. And uninsurable. Her “pre-existing condition” (the cancer that took her right breast) prevents her from obtaining health insurance.

About once a week, Mom wakes up in the middle of the night, choking and gagging. She usually spends the rest of the night vomiting, and the entire next day recuperating. She thinks she has something called a hiatal hernia, but isn’t sure because the diagnostic tests are too expensive. And forget about treatment.

(My grandma had a hiatal hernia. As a federal government retiree, her insurance covered surgery. I suspect yours would do the same, if you were similarly afflicted with this unpleasant condition.)

Today, God willing, Mom will sign up for health insurance on the federal health exchange. She will finally have coverage. That is, if you and your group of obstructionist legislators don’t ultimately get your way. You and your ilk are acting like schoolyard bullies – stomping your feet and making threats to upend the entire country if you don’t get what you want.

Senator, if there’s one thing my mom taught me about bullies (and, as an unpopular kid, I encountered a lot of them!), it was to ignore them. Don’t give into them. Don’t give them power.

Problem is, sir, the people of Utah gave you power when they elected you as our U.S. Senator. I don’t know what they were thinking, but I hope they’re starting to wake up. Your partisan rhetoric, your philosophy of No, your Stop Obamacare at All Costs mantra may be boosting your conservative credentials, but it is hurting real people.

Not just people like my mom, but every American who relies on government services and every “nonessential” government employee who faces a furlough under your petulant plan.

I don’t know your mother, Senator, but I know people who do. She is, by all accounts, a lovely lady. Although I suspect you didn’t encounter schoolyard bullies much as a youth, I imagine her advice to you would have been much the same: Don’t empower them.

Here’s hoping the majority of Congress received similar maternal advice and that they will stand up to your antics this week. This is not how government works, nor is it how leaders behave.

Soon, my mother will have health insurance. She will get the treatment she needs for her ongoing medical condition.

Then the only gagging she’ll experience will be as she watches the childish behavior coming out of Washington D.C.


Angie Welling

Salt Lake City, Utah