Meet These Americans Who Would Lose Coverage Under GOP Bill
March 23, 2017
A new poll shows that only 17 percent of Americans support the GOP bill that will cause 24 million people to lose their insurance and drive up premiums for older Americans.
These Americans are not part of that 17 percent.
Read these personal stories of Americans across the country terrified of having Trump and the GOP take their coverage away:
Anniston Star: Residents fear losing insurance under GOP health plan
When Pam Howard and her husband started their business in Jacksonville in 1999, they took a chance not just with their money, but with their health.
The couple bought health insurance for their kids, but not for themselves.
“Then I got really sick and we lost our home and car, we lost everything,” Howard, 58, said referring to the costly medical bills. “And after the bankruptcy, I couldn’t get anything through insurance because I had a pre-existing condition.”
Howard now has insurance she bought on the insurance exchange through the Affordable Care Act, but she worries that she won’t be able to afford it under the House Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.
At 28, Matt Tyson of Anniston is at the young end of the health insurance pool. With a wife and three kids, he’s not interested in going without insurance, or buying a pared-down plan.
“I really don’t have another option for insurance … this is the most affordable plan I could find with the best coverage,” said Tyson, who pays $69 per month for an ACA plan. “Any plans with lower cost than that and you get into lower quality of health care.”
Connie Dotts is a big fan of her insurance.
“I like that we can choose our own doctors,” says the 60-year-old resident of Mesa, Ariz. “They also have extensive mental health coverage.”
Dotts isn't on some pricey plan, either. She's among the nearly 2 million people enrolled in Medicaid in Arizona and one of the more than 400,000 who have signed up since the Republican-led state expanded Medicaid in 2013.
Her eight prescription drugs are cheap, Dotts says, and she has no copays or premiums. The Medicaid benefits have allowed her to stay on top of her emphysema, depression and osteoarthritis.
“I have torn ligaments in my ankles and I can't take the time off work to go to physical therapy or surgery,” she says. So she's grateful to be able to manage her other conditions.
Dotts works retail and lives paycheck to paycheck. Without Medicaid, she says, she wouldn't be able to afford to see a doctor. “It's just barely above what they consider livable income. Any extensive medical issues would put an excessive burden on me,” she says.
She wouldn't be eligible for Medicaid, except that Arizona started accepting extra funding from the federal government via the Affordable Care Act in 2014 to raise the income threshold for Medicaid in the state. That enabled Arizona to expand Medicaid to cover more people.
The replacement plan the GOP leaders in Congress have proposed would cut off the federal funding for that sort of expanded eligibility after 2020.
Los Angeles Times: He’s Devoted His Life to Caring for L.A.’s Neediest Patients and TrumpCare Has Him Very Nervous
As the suits get rich at the top of the healthcare food chain, there was trembling last week at L.A. County-USC among patients who fear they’ll lose coverage.
“I’ve just been nervous, hoping it doesn’t happen,” said Mercedes Greer, 26, a behavioral therapist who was waiting on an MRI to see if she has a torn knee ligament. The hospital arranged temporary Medi-Cal for her, but it expires in a month, and those kinds of plans could end up on the block.
The Daily Beast: How TrumpCare Will Crush Millennials and Their Boomer Parents
Amina, a 29-year-old California woman, counts herself lucky. She and her 26-year-old sister moved back into their childhood home when their parents’ care needs exceeded their ability to take care of themselves. Amina’s mother is on a cocktail of medications to address a problem with her heart and must get blood transfusions every two years to deal with her anemia. Amina’s 70-year-old father has osteoporosis and needs help getting in and out of the shower. All of Amina and her sister’s paychecks go to supporting their parents.
ABC7: PATIENTS AT ANTELOPE VALLEY CLINIC FEAR NEW GOP HEALTH BILL COULD MEAN LOSS OF INSURANCE
“I’m absolutely terrified of Trumpcare or whatever it is they’re calling it,” she tells The Daily Beast. “The one statistic that keeps getting trotted out, the 64-year-old making $26,500 paying $14,600, is absolutely insane. We simply won’t be able to afford to pay an increase like that.”
Since the Affordable Care Act allowed for the expansion of MediCal, resident Lori Perlin gets to see her doctors regularly as she suffers from asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
“If I can't get the coverage that I need, I don't know what's going to happen,” she said. “I get excellent care here.”
The same goes for Maria Santos. She and her daughter both have diabetes, and she's worried her care will be cut off.
Orlando Sentinel: Trumpcare critics share fear, anxiety
Susanna Perkins, 63, agreed, saying she had finally been able to get health insurance through Obamacare after five years of going without. The Altamonte Springs resident had even moved with her husband to Panama for that nation’s low cost of living and cheap health care after she lost her employer-provided plan during the recession — just as her husband was finishing a master’s degree and hoping to go into teaching.
“He got his diploma just in time for Orange and Seminole [school districts] to lay off 3,000 teachers,” she said. “He finally got a job at the age of 62, riding his bicycle as a courier in downtown Orlando. It was a very dangerous job. He had three accidents … and I never knew when he left in the morning if I’d see him again at night. We blew through his IRA, and … we ended up selling everything we had, except the house, which we couldn’t sell in that market anyway.”
They only returned from Panama in 2014, when they were able to get coverage through the insurance exchange set up under the ACA.
“If they shred [the current plan] like they’re supposed to, we’re going to be hightailing it out of here,” she said, “because dealing with the health care [costs] and insurance makes you sick.”
LA Times: She voted for Trump. Now she fears losing the Obamacare plan that saved her life
Kathy Watson was anxious about her health coverage even before she woke up gasping for breath last month and drove herself to the emergency room with a flare-up in her heart condition.
After struggling for years without insurance, the 55-year-old former small-business owner — who has battled diabetes, high blood pressure and two cancers — credits Obamacare with saving her life.
Watson, a proud, salty woman who was uninsurable a few years ago, isn’t ready to renounce Trump. But she’s increasingly frustrated by his vague promises to replace Obamacare with something better.
“I’ve been through enough,” Watson said recently, sitting on the patio outside her mobile home, down a sandy road in a rural corner of northern Florida. “I don’t want to go back.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution : Trump voters in South Georgia come to terms with GOP health plan
Kenneth Peek had a rough year. The South Georgia farm where he and his wife grow corn, wheat and soybeans faced a drought and lost money in 2016. So he’s working construction jobs to make ends meet.
The 64-year-old hoped to catch a break on his health care costs. He has insurance through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but the premiums and bills keep going up and up. That’s one reason he voted for Donald Trump, hoping “he gets this old country straightened out.”
But like many older Americans and people with limited means, Peek is learning that the Republican plan to replace Obamacare doesn’t give him a break. It gives him a thumping.
Right now, Peek is paying $281 a month for his health policy through Obamacare. That’s $3,372 a year. He’s receiving $11,172 in government tax credits. (His wife, Debra, is on disability.)
Under the proposed new plan, his tax credit would shrink to about $4,000, a drop of $7,172 or 64 percent.
WTTW (PBS) – Chicago, IL: GOP Congressman Roskam’s Constituents Outraged By TrumpCare
“It’s a lot of people that are going to feel stressful that they don't have health insurance. It’s a lot of people who are just one major medical illness away from bankruptcy or death. because they could not afford the cost of treatment. That’s not right.”
Associated Press: 'Scared to death': GOP health care overhaul leaves states in limbo
Among those benefiting from Indiana's expansion is Michael Boone, a 55-year-old cook from Gary.
Boone said it was the first time he has had health coverage as an adult, and it allowed him to get treatment for medical problems he didn't know he had. They included high cholesterol, high blood pressure and a hernia.
His coverage could be a casualty if the Medicaid cuts take effect and Indiana cannot find a way to pay for a larger share.
“I really don't have a full grasp of the situation yet,” Boone said. “But right now, I'm scared to death.”
ABC: In Kentucky, a Trump stronghold, many fear losing Obamacare
“If I didn’t have health insurance, I wouldn’t be alive today,” she said. “I’m on an every three week regimen of medications … that’s about $40,000 a month … so I’m very concerned about the issues that are taking place right now.”
Briemer is one of the millions of Americans who are insured under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Former President Obama announced in March 2016 that an estimated 20 million Americans had gained health insurance since ACA was signed into law six years ago.
But now with the new administration and a Republican-led Congress, the program could be in its last days because current lawmakers say they can come up with a better health care plan.
Portland Press-Herald: Mainers would pay up to 7 times more in premiums under House Republican ACA replacement bill
Ken Voorhees, 61, a self-employed Litchfield builder, earns between $30,000 and $40,000 per year, depending on how much work he gets. He said he currently pays $344 per month in premiums for a plan with a $2,500 deductible. Under the House Republican plan, which would go into effect in 2020 if approved, his premiums could increase to about $900 per month – about one-third of his annual income.
The Current: 'I really think people will die': Americans fear losing health care under Trump's plan
Mark Jenkins, a retired priest in Michigan, is not yet old enough to qualify for insurance under Medicare, which provides it to seniors. He pays for a plan under the Affordable Care Act.
Jenkins tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti, he's done the math and figures the Republican proposal would see his insurance bill jump much higher.
“They say they don't want to pull the rug out from underneath us, but I don't know how else you could define it,” he says.
“I think that they're reckless, and I think that they're rushed,” Jenkins says of politicians in Congress pressing ahead with health-care changes.
“People are going to find themselves without care. Lower-income people are already having more health problems than upper-income people because they can't afford to eat as well,” he explains.
“I don't like to exaggerate, but I really think people will die.”
“We would not be able to continue to build the capacity that the Affordable Care Act was allowing us to do, which essentially took care of the underfunding of the health care system for Indians in the first place,” said Northern Cheyenne President Jace Killsback, who had previously worked as health director and served on a federal committee to advise enrollment efforts in Indian Country. “It essentially stops the momentum, the progress and growth. … Our tribes will continue to have some of the highest health disparities and the most negative health outcomes.”
Lisa Schwetschenau, of Omaha, fears the proposal could open the door to her losing coverage for some of her multiple sclerosis treatments. The 48-year-old relies on her husband’s employer-based insurance plan for physical therapy and used it to get mental health treatment.
Schwetschenau said she’s worried the GOP proposal would eliminate the employer mandate to provide coverage and let states pick the “essential benefits” that plans must cover. Both her physical therapy and mental health treatment are considered essential benefits under the ACA.
“I feel very vulnerable at the moment,” Schwetschenau said. “There’s no guarantee that they’ll have to provide it on an ongoing basis. My husband’s employer could come back one year and say it’s too expensive, and they won’t provide it anymore.”
Chad Diaz began using heroin when he was 12. Now 36 and newly covered by Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, he is on Suboxone, a substitute opioid that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and he is slowly pulling himself together.
“This is the best my life has gone in many, many years,” Diaz, a big man wearing camouflage, said as he sat in a community health center in Manchester, New Hampshire.
If Congress and President Donald Trump succeed in dismantling the Affordable Care Act, he will have no insurance to pay for his medication or counseling, and he fears he will slide back to heroin.
“If this gets taken from me, it's right back to square one,” he said. “And that's not a good place. I'm scary when I'm using. I don't care who I hurt.”
CNN: Grieving father: 'I don't play Trump songs anymore'
Last year, Kraig Moss sold the equipment for his construction business in upstate New York and stopped making mortgage payments so he could follow Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
The amateur country crooner sang pro-Trump ditties while strumming a guitar emblazoned with Trump campaign stickers, earning him the moniker “Trump Troubadour.”
International media dubbed him “the voice of unheard America.”
But now, Moss refuses to play the guitar with the Trump decorations. He's soured on the President because of the newly proposed Republican health care bill.
That legislation, which the president supports, could result in dramatic cuts in addiction treatment services.
Three years ago, Moss found his son, Rob, dead in his bed from a heroin overdose. He was 24.
“The bill is an absolute betrayal of what Trump represented on the campaign trail,” he said. “I feel betrayed.”
Esquire: Disabled Americans Have the Most to Fear Under RepubliCare
Namel Norris, a paraplegic gun violence survivor who performs with hip-hop group 4 Wheel City, lives in the Bronx and is eligible for Medicaid coverage to help him manage health care needs associated with his injury. “Every month and every day,” he says, “I rely on Medicaid.” He needs Medicaid-covered medical supplies to leave his house, he says, so without it, he'd be trapped.
Not having to worry about lifetime limits also enables his art, Norris says: Instead of being caught in a struggle to survive, he can focus on youth outreach and education and making music. It's hard to imagine doing that, he says, with threat of Medicaid being pulled out from under him. “My life would just change,” Norris says. “Drastically.”
Associated Press: For many older Americans, costs rise under health plan
Retired factory worker Bob Melton, 63, said the projected cost increases for older Americans mean he and his wife Tammy, 58, would be unable to continue to afford coverage. They now pay $225 a month after the subsidies they receive through the Affordable Care Act.
He was staggered by a projection that the couple’s premiums could go up by nearly $17,000 under the GOP plan.
“It’ll put me and my wife out — out of insurance. There’s just no way,” he said.
Melton saw a doctor for the first time in 12 years after he and his wife bought a policy through the federal health insurance exchange in 2014. After three appointments and blood tests ruled out more serious ailments, Melton said he learned the nagging pain he suffered in his hands was caused by arthritis.
The Meltons live in Morganton, North Carolina, about 75 miles northwest of Charlotte, in a county that has seen an exodus of manufacturing jobs. Trump won more than two-thirds of the vote here.
Bob Melton himself used to be a staunch Republican. Now he blames Republicans in North Carolina for what he views as efforts to obstruct the Affordable Care Act from working as intended, by refusing to expand Medicaid coverage.
“There’s no justification for it except for spite. That’s just the way I feel about it,” said Melton, who voted for Clinton.
New York Times: Millions Risk Losing Health Insurance in Republican Plan, Analysts Say
Martha Brawley of Monroe, N.C., said she voted for President Trump in the hope he could make insurance more affordable. But on Tuesday, Ms. Brawley, 55, was feeling increasingly nervous based on what she had heard about the new plan from television news reports. She pays about $260 per month for a Blue Cross plan and receives a subsidy of $724 per month to cover the rest of her premium. Under the House plan, she would receive $3,500 a year in tax credits — $5,188 less than she gets under the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m scared, I’ll tell you that right now, to think about not having insurance at my age,” said Ms. Brawley, who underwent a liver biopsy on Monday after her doctor found that she has an autoimmune liver disease. “If I didn’t have insurance, these doctors wouldn’t see me.”
New York Times: G.O.P.’s Health Care Tightrope Winds Through the Blue-Collar Midwest
James Waltimire, a police officer on unpaid medical leave, has been going to the hospital in this small city twice a week for physical therapy after leg surgery, all of it paid for by Medicaid.
Mr. Waltimire, 54, was able to sign up for the government health insurance program last year because Ohio expanded it to cover more than 700,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act. He voted for President Trump — in part because of Mr. Trump’s support for law enforcement — but is now worried about the Republican plan to effectively end the Medicaid expansion through legislation to repeal the health care law.
“Originally the president said he wasn’t going to do nothing to Medicaid,” Mr. Waltimire said the other day after a rehab session. “Now they say he wants to take $880 billion out of Medicaid. That’s going to affect a lot of people who can’t afford to get insurance.”
Anna Holloway of Norman, Oklahoma, who takes daily medication for an auto-immune disease, said she is fearful the GOP plan will price her out of the market for health insurance.
“I am conscious of just how desperate this is,” said Holloway, 60, fighting back tears. “I try not to let myself feel this way, but to live this way with real terror, real fear that the universe is going to fall apart around me.”
She takes home about $1,150 per month working four part-time jobs. That’s only $250 more than the monthly premium for a health care plan that includes Holloway and her 23-year-old daughter. Without the government subsidy that makes the policy affordable, she would have to drop it.
The Kaiser analysis estimates a family plan in Norman under the current Republican proposal would cost as much as $20,000 more for someone in Holloway’s income and age bracket.
“I’d go without health care. I would get sicker, and that would make it more difficult to work. I would eventually have to stop working,” said Holloway
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Provision in ACA replacement plan would hit older consumers hard
When the Republicans’ proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act came out last week, GeorgeAnne and Dan Muchnok read it over very carefully.
They realized quickly that they would be among the biggest losers if the replacement plan is approved as is.
They currently pay $664 a month for their joint insurance coverage, plus a $350 subsidy from the government. Under the current proposal, they project their monthly premium would possibly double, to more than $1,200 a month.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Why the GOP health plan could be especially hard on Pa. Medicaid patients
“Somebody is going to lose,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “The notion that we would trade children’s needs for pregnant women’s or the disabled or the elderly,” she said in an interview, “that is an untenable set of choices that no policymaker wants to be a part of.”
Argus Leader: Trump's biggest supporters could be hit hardest by health plan
Dana Palmateer, 55, worries the changes would chip away at her nest egg, if not knock it out entirely.
The former police officer and early retiree said she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer last year after a colonoscopy. Without insurance Palmateer would have had more than $150,000 in medical bills to pay, she said. Instead, she said she pays a $40 monthly premium and occasional fees for medications and treatments.
“It's a pretty small price to pay for saving my life,” she said. “And that didn't just save my life physically, it saved my life financially.”
Longview News Journal: For older East Texans, costs rise under proposed GOP health plan
“I am scared to death” of the Republican plan, said Edd Pamplin, a self-employed Longview resident who went 12 years without health insurance until being able to purchase coverage in 2014. The Affordable Care Act, he said, made that possible. Without it, health insurance would have cost thousands of dollars a month more than he could afford to cover him and his wife, Adrianne, who reached Medicare age in 2016.
Sara Letellier, who works with clients at Pioneer Human Services, said she’s among the people who have gotten help thanks to Obamacare’s coverage of treatment for addiction and mental illness. She’s one year sober and on a treatment plan for bipolar disorder because she was able to get insurance. Now, she works with clients who struggle with the same challenges.
“I have gotten a chance to reclaim my life. I am a functioning member of our society,” she said.
Letellier finished her speech speaking directly to Trump and McMorris Rodgers.
“Your support of repealing the Affordable Care Act equivocates to looking me in the eye, shaking my hand and telling me my life doesn’t matter,” she said.
Marie Claire: Losing Obamacare Could Kill Me
“I'm still in shock that this all happened in the relatively tiny period of time I was covered by Obamacare. I was just so fortunate. The doctors and the insurance company didn't hold back any treatment or say, “She's on Medicaid so don't give her the best drugs.” I got the best treatment and the best care. I wish that for everyone in this country: that they can get the treatment they need when they need it.
On March 8, my daughter's 18th birthday, my surgeon called to say I was clear. It looks like the cancer is gone. It was pretty cool to tell my daughter that on her birthday. And now she wants to be an oncologist. That's her new life goal because she's seen firsthand what medicine can do.
But the day before, on March 7, Republicans announced their new plan: the American Health Care Act (AHCA). This Thursday, the House of Representatives will be voting on it.
“If they outright repeal the Affordable Care Act without replacing it, which they've discussed as an option, that would be the worst case scenario for me. Medicaid expansion would go away. The mandate to cover pre-existing conditions would go away. It would be devastating.”