More Faces of Republicans’ Healthcare Repeal
June 28, 2017
Health care saves lives, and everyone deserves care. Here are more 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every corner of the country who owe their livelihood to the Affordable Care Act and some who may lose it all if it is repealed.
REPORTER: “Do you feel that humanity is lacking in the political debate?”
CHANDRA: “I'm not naive. I understand there has to be talk of money, of the budgets. I get that. That can't be the only discussion. When you talk numbers you have to realize every single statistic is a human life.”
New York Times: Matthew Kimmel, Washington–Health care repeal not only threatens his health, but his job and independence
I was diagnosed with a chronic medical condition when I was 9. Growing up, I was fortunate to have a mother who was able to fight for me, from keeping me enrolled in a public school to getting me access to experimental drug trials at the National Institutes of Health. But I also saw her in tears over medical bills when my father was laid off after 9/11 and we had to go on Cobra, and how draining negotiations with insurance companies were. At one point, I had to go on a medication that was $100,000 a year and was not covered by insurance. I don’t know how I would have survived without a family with enough savings to keep me covered.
I am now successful, independent, and working in international relations and development in Washington, D.C., which I love. If the A.C.A. is repealed, I will live in constant fear of being laid off or fired and losing my insurance, or worry that I will have a flare-up that would devastate me financially.
People’s World: Lee Ann Howell, Washington, Pennsylvania — Nursing home LPN, and mother of two children who rely on Medicaid
“As a nurse, I can tell you that repealing the Affordable Care Act without a suitable replacement and cuts to Medicaid would dramatically affect the quality of care that I’m able to provide for my patients. It will also affect the care that my 23-year-old son receives. He has a traumatic brain injury, and needs round-the-clock care. My 9-year-old son is autistic and receives weekly treatment. Without Medicaid, I wouldn’t be able to afford all the expenses for their coverage, for my family and myself.”
Huffington Post Susan Helene Gottfried, Wexford, Pennsylvania–A single mother, faces the threat of seeing her medications and treatments for glaucoma become unaffordable if healthcare is repealed
In January 2016, Susan had a bicycling accident that almost took her right eye. She’s now dependent on daily meds and routine scans of the back of the eye to make sure the damage doesn’t turn into glaucoma, and to make sure the retina repair holds and no new scar tissue forms, requiring more surgery. With every surgery comes decreased vision. Glacuoma, of course, causes damage to the optic nerve that results in blindness. The proposed changes to the ACA will either knock Susan off insurance altogether (given her pre-existing condition) or make her meds and the retinal scans unaffordable to her as a single mother.
New York Times: Samantha Fratus, Boston, Massachusetts–Wife of kidney transplant patient, says health care repeal would be “entirely un-American”
Samantha and her husband, a kidney transplant patient
My husband has a genetic kidney disorder called polycystic kidney disease and, at the age of 47, needed a kidney transplant. He is now, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and the incredible generosity of his donor, back at work, paying taxes and living a good life.
Under the Republican bill, we would never escape the “pre-existing condition” label, and there would be the added worry about having asked our donor to subject himself to the whims of insurance companies. The financial implications to both my family and the kidney donor’s are impossible to predict or calculate, but the cost of losing Obamacare would be steep, terrifying and entirely un-American.
People’s World: Brenda Lozada, Aurora, Colorado — “Republicans seem to only want to take care of special interests and wealthy CEOs”
“I have been a home care worker for 12 years, and not only do my consumers depend on Medicaid to access medical care and life-saving medications, but so does my family. Millions of people rely on Medicaid, but Republicans seem to only want to take care of special interests and wealthy CEOs. I hope they choose to listen to their voters because their voters are certainly watching and listening to them.” Last week Lozada attempted to meet with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in his D.C. office to ask him not to vote for a bill that his constituents have not seen.
Huffington Post: Amy Zellmer, Saint Paul, Minnesota–Recovered from traumatic brain injury thanks to Medicaid expansion
Amy is currently on Medicaid through the expansion. As a single adult without children, Amy says that she is fortunate for the expansion that has allowed her affordable healthcare the past few years while she got back on her feet financially after sustaining a traumatic brain injury from a fall on the ice.
Huffington Post: Eryn Paxton, Charles Town, West Virginia–Mother of a child with epilepsy who worries that they may be denied coverage due to lifetime maximum
Eryn works in Virginia as a clinical social worker for adults with a dual diagnosis with IDD and SMI. Eryn explains, “I can say many people I work with would be impacted (and possibly even my job in the long run), but on a more personal level, I have an amazing 17-month-old son who recently was diagnosed with epilepsy as a result of a lesion in his brain. This year alone we will pay at least $22,000 out of pocket to cover just the health insurance costs and make sure he has the treatment he needs. We are moving in two weeks to a more affordable home so that we can meet his current medical needs and cover additional expenses that we may have to travel and seek treatment out of the area.”
Eryn continues, “Even for a family with a moderate income and ‘good insurance,’ the possibility that my son could be denied coverage due to lifetime maximums (he’ll need brain surgery soon, and possibly more surgeries along the road) is terrifying. In addition the proposals to allow states to charge higher costs to individuals who are sick would make it impossible for our family to afford the care my son needs—and will need. We have a long road ahead of us, and I lay awake at night worried for my son, and my family’s financial future
New York Times: Kersti Malvre, Danville, California–Single daughter of two elderly parents on Medicare is on Medicaid herself due to severe injury
Kersti Malvre and her mother, Maili Male
I am the primary caretaker for two elderly parents who are both on Medicare. I am single. I have been a self-employed photographer for the last 23 years and always had private health insurance. It was affordable until I shattered my spine in an accident in 2010 and needed major reconstructive surgery. I managed to pay ever-increasing insurance premiums until now. This year, when my premiums shot up to $1,600 a month, I had to go on Medicaid, which Republicans are threatening to cut.
In the past seven years, I have struggled to hang on to my business, gone through suicidal depression, and still have pain and permanent nerve damage. I see a pain specialist once a month and a psychiatrist every three months. Since I’ve been on Medicaid, everything has been free, though not nearly at the level of care I have been accustomed to. Instead of a regular doctor, I must go to a low-income clinic. I am 61. I have four more years to wait for Medicare. I am in limbo, and very stressed.
Huffington Post: Apollo Howell, Autin, Texas–3-year-old born with severe medical issues, alive thanks to Medicaid
Apollo Howell was diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula, esophageal atresia, tracheomalacia, lung disease, acute gastroenteritis, reflux disease, chronic gastroparesis, and cyclic vomiting syndrome when he was born. He spent the first 171 days of his life in three different Neonatal Incentive Care Units (NICU). Through his Medicaid insurance and the pediatric surgeons and physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Dell Children’s Hospital, Apollo’s trachea was successfully rebuilt and his esophagus was repaired. Today, Apollo is an unstoppable force of nature, and loves to play with trains and swim.
People’s World: Lisa Savage, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Mother of quadriplegic son who relies on Medicaid
“Brandon’s injury devastated our family. He went from being a vibrant, active college student, to being paralyzed from the neck down in the blink of an eye. The last seven years have been hard to say the least, but we are – Brandon is – thriving. But that’s only because we have all the resources we need through Medicaid: access to prescription drugs, medical equipment, therapy, and in-home care services. This waiting game, will they repeal the bill or not, has been very stressful for us. If the ACA is repealed and Medicaid is stripped, I don’t know how I will take care of my son. This is a very scary time for us.”
Huffington Post: Khalil Pereira, North Brunswick, New Jersey–Recovered from severe car crash thanks to Medicaid
Khalil was returning from college with one of his friends when the driver fell asleep at the wheel and lost control of the vehicle. The car flipped 15 times. During his six-month inpatient stay at Children’s Specialized Hospital, Khalil received phenomenal medical and nursing care and intense physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy. His family received hope and reassurance during a critical time of shock and uncertainty. After treatment, Khalil was able to talk, walk and do all his daily activities on his own. All of this phenomenal progress was made possible by Medicaid assistance. Despite some persisting cognitive issues, Khalil is now employed and works part-time as a store clerk.
“Without Medicaid I would not have been able to pay for his medical treatments. At the time of his injury I was a single mom of three boys working only part-time.” says Khalil’s mother.
People’s World: Cheryll Athorp, Ketchikan, Alaska — Traveled to DC to let Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan know how her insurance plan made surviving breast cancer easier
“I signed up for Primera in the marketplace in 2013. Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time in January 2014. I had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. I had to have a $10,000 shot before each chemo treatment because my white blood cell count was so low. This time because I had health insurance, it was a lot less stressful this go around. Even though the second time was more serious, it was easier because I did not have the stress of finances and I was able to focus on getting on well.” Last week, Cheryll traveled to Washington to meet with senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
Vox: Timmy Morrison, Maryland — 6 year old with rare genetic disease lobbies Congress against health care repeal
[Timmy] was born seven weeks premature and spent the first six months of his life in the hospital. He still has significant health issues due to a rare genetic disease. He has been under anesthesia more than 45 times.
Before Obamacare, many health insurance plans (including Timmy’s) had lifetime coverage limits. They would cap how much one person could spend on medical care, often at $1 million…
Last Sunday night, Michelle [Timmy’s mother] got together with two other parents of medically fragile children. They sat around the kitchen table eating leftover birthday cake. They came up with a plan: They would lobby Congress. They would take their kids, their strollers, their bulky bags of medical equipment, to make clear what was at stake. They would knock on doors and, as Michelle described it, go “trick-or-treating for health care.”
Huffington Post: Kenedi and Kendal Breyfogle, Pierre, South Dakota–Twins who faced leukemia, one faces recurrence, both have preexisting condition for life
Twin sisters Kenedi and Kendal were diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at 3 months old. After 17 months in remission, Kendal relapsed and now, at day +40 from her transplant, the cancer has already returned.
People’s World: Ethel Turner, Huntington, West Virginia — Nursing home worker who fights against repeal
“I get emotional whenever I think of what will happen to the residents I care for if Senate Republicans do away with Medicaid. That is why I am fighting for them, and we will all keep fighting for a healthcare system that works for everyone not just millionaires and wealthy CEOs who some members of Congress care more about.” Turner traveled to Washington last week to ask Sen. Shelley Moore Capito to take the bill home and explain to voters what is in it.
New York Times: Kathleen Pickett, Kilauea, Hawaii–Small business owner is worried about providing affordable health care to her employees
Kathleen and her husband
My husband and I live in Hawaii and have owned and operated a business for over 25 years. We have always been required to offer our employees health insurance. In the beginning, it was affordable, and we were proud to be able to offer it. As years went by, it got more expensive and harder to afford, especially after my healthy husband contracted a rare infection that hospitalized him for two months.
Two years ago, under Obamacare, we finally found an affordable, decent health plan for ourselves and our employees. Now, I am extremely worried about how the insurance industry here will react to this irresponsible Republican plan. As a small-business owner, I’m going to have to spend way more time figuring out what this means than those who actually voted for it.
People’s World: Michael Collins, Las Vegas, Nevada — Registered nurse, says GOP is “playing politics with people’s lives”
“It’s become increasingly apparent—in Nevada and across the country—that Republican members of Congress do not care about the wellbeing of Americans. If they did, they would have never proposed such a disastrous health care bill that destroys Medicaid, and penalizes people for having pre-existing conditions. They’re simply playing politics with people’s lives, which is frightening.”
Huffington Post: Linda Ware, Bellaire, Texas–Cancer patient fears not receiving access to treatment after being laid-off
Linda lives 20 minutes from the famous cancer hospital, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She was lucky to be treated there when she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in October of 2013. After 30+ years in media, her job was eliminated in January 2016. She stayed on COBRA at almost $1500 per month, which runs out at the end of August 2017. MD Anderson Center is working with her to advance all her appointments to fall within that deadline, but Linda says, “then I’m on my own.”
Loveland Magazine: Alexia and Scott Kadish — Parents of child with significant disabilities worried that their child will not eligible for insurance after phasing out of parents’ plan
Ethan will not have the opportunity to receive health care from his employer or pay the premiums for private insurance. Ethan’s significant disabilities will prevent him from finding employment and generating income. We hope we are proven wrong, as this is a very difficult reality to accept. While he is very fortunate today to be covered by a great employer-sponsored health care plan, thanks to Procter & Gamble, what happens when Ethan is no longer eligible for this insurance?
Remember, today Ethan’s health care costs exceed $1,000,000 per year and it takes three policies to provide for his needs (Private, Medicaid and BCMH). Even with these three policies, there is about $100,000 per year of costs not covered by any of them. Ethan will age out of BCMH and private insurance.
Washington Post: Elizabeth Tadesse, Denver, Colorado – Works at a nursing center and fears Medicaid cuts will reduce her hours
But the health-care bill that senators are discussing this week would slash funding to Medicaid, which generates 81 percent of her employer’s revenue and largely covers her wages. The Better Care Reconciliation Act would reduce the country’s Medicaid spending by $772 billion over the next decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected in a report Monday. That could shut down nursing homes across the country, health-care leaders argue, and trigger widespread layoffs in one of the nation's fastest-growing fields of employment. Tadesse, who quit a job at Walmart to work at Holly Heights, is afraid Medicaid cuts might reduce her hours. Certified nursing assistants at her facility make about $16 an hour, or $33,000 annually. “If they cut my hours,” she said, “it would affect me tremendously.”
MSNBC: Michael Phillips, Tampa, Florida — Suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and fears not being able to receive care at home due to Medicaid cuts
Ever since November 9th, 2016, I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been scared. I’ve never been scared by the results of an election. It’s an odd feeling. I’ve always felt like the federal government exists to protect citizens, even when state governments won’t do so, may especially when state governments won’t do so…Though I am quite disabled, Medicaid services allow me to live a full and productive life, interacting with the community, being cared for at home…Losing Medicaid, being forced into an institution, I’d lose everything. I’d lose the rights guaranteed to me under the constitution: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. People with disabilities know happiness isn’t guaranteed, but we want a shot at it just like anybody else.
New York Times: Spencer Owades, Loveland, Colorado—Could lose his job, his home, and could pay $2,500 a month for Diabetes medication without the ACA
I am a 63-year-old dentist with Type 1 diabetes. I work in a community health center providing care to patients with Medicaid. My position was added when the A.C.A. expanded Medicaid. Without it, I stand to lose my job and my health insurance. My out-of-pocket costs for managing my diabetes are over $2,500 a month. Losing my job and my insurance would likely cause me to lose my home. Being unable to afford the cost of managing my diabetes could well cost me my feet, kidneys and eyesight.
People’s World: George Allen, Las Vegas Nevada — Home care worker with diabetes relies on Medicaid
“I am a diabetic. Last year, my vision became blurry, and I was literally trying to work in the dark because I could not see. I needed a surgery to save my vision, and I was able to have the surgery because of Medicaid. I tell people these are Medicaid eyes. Medicaid saved my eyes.”
Huffington Post: Heather Childs, Coatesville, Pennsylvania— Three members of her family experience autoimmune diseases
Everyone in Heather’s family has pre-existing conditions. She states, “Three of us have autoimmune diseases that cannot or will not ever be cured. They can be maintained with expensive medications. Except my son, a Type 1 diabetic, who will die without his insulin. I worry about my kids as they finish college, already many thousands of dollars in debt, who may not be able to get insurance because of their conditions—or have to pay more.”
People’s World: Richard Dituri, Tulare, California — Home Care Worker who voted for Trump and now is worried about cuts to Medicaid
“When I voted for President Trump, I wanted him to improve healthcare. I did not imagine he and Congress would vote to end Medicaid. My consumers need Medicaid to survive. I care for consumers who would not have prescription medicines, doctors’ visits, or home care services without Medicaid. And I need Medicaid, too, because I wouldn’t have a job without it.”