Faces of Republicans’ Healthcare Repeal

Health care saves lives, and everyone deserves care.  Here are Americans from every corner of the country who owe their livelihood to the Affordable Care Act and some who may lose it all if it is repealed.


Washington Monthly: Pat Powers, Missouri Repeal would put her home care benefits, independence, and job at risk

In Powers’s case, health home care involved sharing information about her medications, hospitalizations, diet, diabetes management, and even employment and housing status “They helped me understand my depression and cope with things that I stress on, and they helped me with my weight control and diabetes,” says Powers. “Now I’m taking my medication…and I lost ten pounds.” They also helped her find a part-time job. Now, instead of showing up at emergency rooms, she shows up to work the buffet at a local restaurant. “I feel better about myself,” she says with evident pride. “I know I can handle any situation I come across.”


New York TimesAmal Bouhabib, Nashville, Tennessee  Protections for pre-existing conditions meant she could be insured during her pregnancy


Amal with her husband and son (New York Times)

I feel ridiculously lucky that the ACA existed when I had my baby, and here’s why… When I was five months pregnant, we moved to Nashville for [my husband’s] job, which didn’t provide insurance. Because of the ACA, we were able to buy coverage, even though somehow pregnancy is considered a pre-existing condition. It could once again become the basis for an insurance company to reject you, or to increase your premiums, if the ACA is repealed.

Denying a pregnant woman insurance coverage can have far-reaching effects. She might stay in an unhealthy or abusive job to maintain coverage, or stay in an unhealthy or abusive marriage to maintain her husband’s coverage. A family might forgo a good opportunity to move for a better life for their child; after having the baby, a family might be saddled with debt.


New York TimesDina Gilio-Whitaker, San Clemente, California – Repeal endangers the health care she receives through U.S. government treaty with American Indians


Dina  Gilio-Whitaker (New York Times)


American Indians have a right to receive medical care under the treaties our ancestors made in exchange for land. Asking American Indians to purchase an insurance plan, however good it is, is asking them to pay the government to live up to its treaty obligations…The plan for American Indians and Alaska Natives was made possible by the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act under the ACA Nowhere in the new bill is the IHIA mentioned, so it is like a big black hole for American Indians, and that can’t be good…My insurance under the ACA has allowed me to attend to lingering but minor health issues I’ve had for years. The ACA saved my sister’s life in December after she suffered a brain aneurysm, providing access to excellent medical help. At 59, I’m at the age where even though I’m in excellent health now, anything can happen.


KECY-ABC: Ariana Gonzalez, El Centro, California  Had to go to Mexico for pregnancy care before Planned Parenthood opened a local office

ARIANA GONZALEZ: “We needed to make sure that this pregnancy was going to stick and it was going to be healthy. And in order to do that, off to Mexico we went.”


REPORTER: “That’s right, off to Mexico. That’s because the Gonzalezes live in El Centro, California, in a county federally designated as a medically underserved area. Ariana has health insurance through her job as a high school teacher, but there simply aren’t enough doctors to go around, and so she was going to have to wait six weeks to see her obstetrician. That’s why Ariana was relieved when a Planned Parenthood clinic opened in her town, filling the void. But now, she’s worried all over again because the American Health Care Act, passed recently by the House of Representatives, defunds Planned Parenthood. The new Senate proposal would do the same. That could force her clinic to close, the clinic where she gets birth control and gynecological care. And if it closed, she’d be right back where she started.”


New York Times: James Panagoulias, Westminster, Colorado  Stage 4 colorectal cancer patient who could end up bankrupt and homeless without ACA



James Panagoulias (New York Times)


I will die without the ACA I am a single, 60-year-old man. In January 2016, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer that had metastasized to my liver…The total cost for all of this has exceeded $300,000. Luckily and thankfully, because of the ACA, my out-of-pocket costs were just $2,250 for 2016 and $2,450 for 2017. Without the ACA, I would be bankrupt and homeless.


New York TimesDr. Sarah Silver, Madison, Wisconsin – Says ACA reduces emergency room visits

Sarah Silver (New York Times)

Working as an emergency physician for 20 years has allowed me to see the wax and wane of coverage and use of the emergency department. I practice in the Rust Belt. We see the same uninsured patients regularly. The emergency department is required by law to see all patients regardless of their ability to pay. It is not the place to go for long-term or primary care, but without a modicum of coverage, most of these patients cannot obtain medications and adequate health care.

At least as it applies to primary care, the ACA has opened doors to obtaining preventive medical treatment. Repeal of the law would most certainly reverse the financial incentive patients have to seek care for chronic conditions outside the emergency room.


CNN: Alison Chandra, New Jersey  Worried her son with rare genetic disorder worries that her child will no longer receive essential health benefits under GOP bill

“I didn't follow politics before November. I was overseas for both of President Obama's elections,” Chandra said. “I have been shocked at how loudly each side yells about their specific talking points. It paints these issues as black and white when they are anything but that.” “It seems like our kids are being reduced to a line in a budget,” Chandra said. “No one seems to realize there are real people behind it.” The new bill also raises some fears for Chandra and her family. “My fear is that this bill comes into play and suddenly essential health benefits are no longer covered, like hospitalization, prescription medications,” said Chandra.


Huffington Post: Tymia McCollough, Georgetown, South Carolina – Child with sickle cell anemia has received coverage through Medicaid, giving her a greater quality of life

Today, Tymia is an ambassador for the American Red Cross, leader on the police community board, involved with the elderly in her community, enjoys pageantry, modeling, singing and ballet. She is an ambitious young girl, who is best described as BRAVE. “Medicaid is very important to Tymia because it allows her to see the doctors and specialists who help her sustain a great quality of life. Medicaid has guaranteed that my daughter will receive consistent and effective medical care. Without it, she may not be here today. For this, we are truly grateful.” – Tymia’s mother, Susie.


Wisconsin State Journal: Adam Nostad – 26-year-old business-owner with physical and developmental disabilities relies on Medicaid to receive care and run business

The Stoughton family depends on Medicaid for many services for Adam, who needs constant help with daily living. Despite his limitations, Adam runs his own can-recycling business, thanks in part to Medicaid-funded workers who help him do it…“I would like to urge them to think about their own families,” Notstad said of lawmakers. “Think about them, and have a heart.”


Huffington PostRoy Steele, San Francisco, California – Cancer and childhood sexual abuse survivor, also living with HIV and PTSD faces a threat to his health and his life if health repeal passes

“If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it will be the most controversial act of cruelty, inhumanity, and political malice in our nation’s history,” Ray said. Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, Roy was deathly ill and drowning in medical bills… “I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I am a cancer survivor. I am living with HIV. I am living with PTSD. I am living with other maladies. I lose sleep nearly every day from the stress related to the Republican party’s promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Medication keeps me alive.


Wisconsin State Journal: Joy Mosenfelder, Boston, — 35-year-old with multiple sclerosis whose parents are worried that cuts to Medicaid will prevent her from working full-time and supporting herself

Joy suffered serious flare-ups of the disease that caused pain, muscle spasms and loss of feeling in much of her body. Then she found an intravenous drug treatment that quelled the flare-ups. But at more than $5,000 a month, it costs more than her monthly salary. For now her insurer pays for the treatment, which enables Joy to work full-time and support herself. Under the proposed changes, her parents worry what would happen if an insurer limits her coverage — or if she would lose coverage due to a job change and struggle to regain it due to her pre-existing condition. They’ve written all of their federal lawmakers to share their concerns.


CBS19: Sarah Byrd, Texas – Fears Medicaid cuts will prevent her infant from receiving care

Sarah Byrd says her 1-year old-daughter Aria began having seizures when she was three months old. “If it weren’t for Medicaid we wouldn’t have been able to have all of the medical procedures that were needed to find out what was going on,” Byrd said. Planning to start her new job next month, Byrd says it has been the Medicaid coverage she’s had in between jobs that has counted the most.


New York Times: Nancy Huffsticker – Worried that Medicaid cuts will deprive her of the care she needs for her disabilities and chronic illnesses

She listed her ailments: spinal cancer in remission, restless legs syndrome, high blood pressure and multiple ulcers. She has had spinal reconstructive surgery and a hip replacement. She is undergoing physical therapy with the hope that, one day, she will be able to leave her wheelchair and use a walker. Huffstickler is fearful of Republicans’ health care changes. “It may save the federal government money, but what about us?” she asked.


New York Times: Alice Jacobs, Orange, Virginia  90-year-old nursing home resident relies on Medicaid after medical expenses exhausted her savings


Alice Jacobs (New York Times)


Alice Jacobs, 90, once owned a factory and horses. She raised four children and buried two husbands. But years in an assisted living facility drained her savings, and now she relies on Medicaid to pay for her care at Dogwood Village, a non-profit, county-owned nursing home here. “You think you’ve got enough money to last all your life, and here I am,” Jacobs said.


New York Times: Mary Ann Mohrmann, Orange, Virginia  Retired elementary school teacher relies on Medicaid to pay for her nursing home expenses



Mary Ann Mohrmann (New York Times)


She has Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a neurological disorder that has weakened her legs, feet and thumbs and compromised her fine motor skills. Two of her children have it, too, she said. None of them can take care of her at home. “I’ve been here years,” she said. “I don’t know how many.”


Huffington PostDawn Hamilton, Los Angeles, California – Child with cerebral palsy, dependent on access to Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program) for her daughter to grow and thrive

“As parents of a severely disabled child (she went without oxygen at birth and has cerebral palsy and a host of medical conditions as a result), we rely heavily on the combination of private insurance coverage and Medi-Cal (California’s version of Medicaid). Because of the extensive therapy, treatments and medical care we’ve been able to provide my daughter, she is growing and thriving today despite her disability…The thought that pre-existing conditions may make our access to healthcare more difficult or more expensive…the thought that the lifetime limits/caps could return…less options for self employed people…reduced Medicaid resources…less access to the high level care we are dependent on…losing nursing support that allows me to work while my daughter is cared for—all of it is terrifying. My only saving grace in all of this is that we live in California where we have legislators like Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein looking out for our best interests.”


Huffington Post: Matthew Massee, Salt Lake City, Utah – Worried that the proposed 30% surcharge in the Republican health care repeal would prevent his family from entering the insurance market

Matthew explains that he and his wife do not have enough income to add her to his company health insurance without going into debt. Medicare rejected his wife because she is a “documented immigrant” (their words). The proposed change to the ACA—that will add a 30% premium surcharge to people who do not currently have insurance—will add another financial barrier that prevents this family from entering the insurance market.


The Seattle Times: Cinda Johnson, Seattle, Washington — Could maintain coverage for her daughter, battling a mental illness, in graduate school thanks to the ACA

In her late teens and early 20s, as Linea struggled to gain control of her newly diagnosed bipolar illness, health care was critical to her recovery… This was before the ACA made it possible to carry a son or daughter on one’s medical insurance until they turned 26…With symptoms of her illness left untreated, she likely would not have been able to hold a job and certainly would have fallen into poverty. Hospitalizations would have been the response to a severe medical crisis.


New York Times: Michelle Doolittle, Eagle River, Wisconsin  Can manage Crohn’s disease thanks to the ACA


Michelle Dolittle (New York Times)

In 2016, I got on BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid. Last September, I went to urgent care with pain in my abdomen. I underwent surgery that removed a softball-size wad of inflammation from my intestines, including my appendix, and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease…Without coverage, I would have faced $50,000-plus in bills for emergency surgery and medications that cost roughly $650 per month. In the spring, I switched to an Obamacare policy. If I now lose that, my bills would potentially skyrocket. I work as a waitress in northern Wisconsin and frankly cannot afford much health care.


WTRF-CBS: Kim Toothman, Ohio – Protested for her child with chronic illness

REPORTER: “These protesters believe the Republican healthcare plan could have deadly consequences for some Ohioans. Perhaps of greatest concern is the plan to roll back the expansion of Medicaid that allowed more than 700,000 Ohioans to access healthcare, many of them mentally ill and drug addicted.”…“Kim Toothman joined the protest today because of concern over how the Republican bill will treat pre-existing conditions. Her son had a kidney transplant and had been denied coverage prior to Obamacare.”


KIM TOOTHMAN: “As the mother of a chronically ill child, I fear for what is going to happen to him, his family and for everyone in this country who's dealing with a sick family member.”


New York Times: Natarsha McQueen, Brooklyn, New York – Breast cancer survivor who gets follow-up testing every year covered under insurance exchange


Natarsha McQueen (New York Times)

I am a cancer survivor. My journey began with an early screening at Planned Parenthood in 2008, after which I was diagnosed with breast cancer…My sister is also a breast cancer survivor, and she relies on Medicaid to take care of herself and her three children. My mother has a chronic illness. My health and the health of those closest to me will be in great jeopardy if the ACA is repealed.


Huffington Post: Katie Alee, Minnetonka, Minnesota – Teenager with rare form of cerebral palsy relies on Medicaid for care

Katie was diagnosed with complex movement disorder, a rare form of cerebral palsy, when she was a year old. Her condition requires ongoing and constant medical care. Medicaid has assisted Katie’s family from day one with access to quality and affordable care. Katie has grown into a vibrant young woman who can advocate for herself because of the care she has received throughout her life with Medicaid assistance; [such as] when her elementary school’s playground couldn’t accommodate her power wheelchair, she used her voice and an accessible one was built.


“Knowing that Medicaid is there for Katie should anything ever happen to me is vital to me and my peace of mind. And Katie’s future needs are not really known at this time, so we need to make sure there is always an affordable healthcare opportunity for Katie” [says Edwina Alee, Katie’s mother].