‘Why would anyone want to diminish the access to health care we’ve been able to create?’
Denise White-Jenkins of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was worried.
Years ago, her daughter, a sophomore in college, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was successfully treated, but in February, her daughter was approaching her 26th birthday, and she would no longer be able to be on her parents’ health insurance plan.
As health care advocates fight today to preserve the Affordable Care Act, the subject of Americans with pre-existing conditions was front and center Wednesday. An amendment to the House GOP repeal bill would allow states to opt out of requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. At first, the amendment was understood by many to gut the availability of affordable insurance for those with such conditions, and it was not gaining enough votes. Then, Representatives Upton (R-MI) and Long (R-MO) offered a fig leaf of an amendment, providing a wholly inadequate increase in the funds available to pay for those who would be insured through high risk pools. It will not fix the problem (it’s been estimated that it would take more than $200 billion to make high risk pools viable; this amendment offers $8 billion).
To show why this matters a lot, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi invited Denise and people with other compelling stories to share them at a news conference in the U.S. Capitol.
Denise reports that her daughter is healthy, cancer-free, and pursuing her dream to become a lawyer. But she is worried that if the cancer were to return, an insurance company would treat it as a pre-existing condition and would not provide affordable coverage. “Let us not return to those days,” she urged members of Congress. “Please place concern about the well-being of families over the well-being of your careers. Have the courage to do what you know is right. Work constructively with members of both parties to improve access to health care, not destroy it.”
Maureen Murphy of Alexandria, Virginia, recounted how she experienced a stroke while participating in her exercise class. The stroke, which turned out to be the result of a rare blood disorder, occurred before the Affordable Care Act became law.
At the time, Maureen, a graduate school student, was unable to purchase health insurance prior to her stroke because of what was deemed a pre-existing condition: It seems Maureen had been undergoing bereavement counseling following the deaths of her parents – and her grief was viewed as a pre-existing condition.
Today Maureen says she benefits from the Affordable Care Act because purchasing insurance through the exchange helps her afford her daily medication. In addition, she knows she will not be denied coverage due to her rare blood disorder, and she knows she will not be charged more than those who do not have this disorder. “Why would anyone want to diminish the access to health care we’ve been able to create?” she asks.
An estimated 130 million Americans have pre-existing conditions, and polls show most Americans want this population protected. But pre-existing conditions aren’t just a personal issue for ordinary Americans – it’s also a personal issue for some members of Congress.
“I have a pre-existing condition,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who spoke at Wednesday’s event. “I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I am covered. I can pay for it, and I get what I need. This is a very personal fight for me.”
Today and tomorrow are critical times to call Representatives to tell them to vote no.
Indivisible and Families USA created a call script to help you talk to your representative.