Rockland native gets national attention for letter to president
July 4 is a significant day for Rockland teen Margo Arruda. Not because it's the nation's birthday, but because when she was 9 years old, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
"I usually feel kind of depressed on the Fourth," she said.
This year was different. Arruda learned the Affordable Care Act was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4 with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. casting the deciding vote on June 28.
Inspired, Arruda wrote a letter to President Barack Obama thanking him for the legislation that will provide coverage to citizens with pre-existing conditions. She assumed the letter would not be read, but was reassured knowing she sent the words expressing how meaningful this decision was to her.
It wasn't long before she received a call from Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago explaining her letter had been chosen as "the letter of the week" to be featured on the Obama-Biden blog. Actually, the call woke her up and she almost didn't answer it.
She said it was great to know the letters are read. "It made my day and I felt like a rock star," the 17-year-old Arruda said.
Arruda said she was worried about what her health care options would be after she graduated from college.
"It's frustrating and scary to grow up with insurance companies able to deny coverage based on my pre-existing condition," she said. "It's not my fault I have antibodies that attack my pancreas."
Arruda said universal health care is a human right. She said it's a deadly and perpetual cycle when people are unable to access affordable care and are, as a result, unable to work.
At the end of her letter, Arruda told President Obama he had her support in November.
"Thank you for making the future just a little less scary," she wrote. "Thank you for making it easier to pursue my dreams. I cannot find words to tell you how much it means to me. By the election, I will be old enough to register to vote. You've got my vote. Thank you for enacting change I can believe in."
Arruda will be attending the University of Southern Maine this fall. She plans to earn a degree in English literature and become a professor.
On the passage and upholding of the Affordable Care Act she said, "I think the whole thing is a step forward."
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at JLaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com