Meanwhile, 1012 miles away…
While the health care debate was front and center in the U.S. Senate this week, the potentially far-reaching effects of health care legislation were the center of attention 1,012 miles away – in front of a federal building in Des Moines, Iowa.
A number of Iowa groups, including Main Street Alliance of Iowa, Iowa Citizen Action Network, Progress Iowa, Americans for Democratic Action—Iowa and Every Child Matters – rallied Thursday to oppose the health care legislation passed by the House and pending in the Senate.
Among the speakers was Ross Daniels. He had a story to share.
In July 2011, after the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, Ross and his spouse, Amy Ward, decided to take a vacation in the Boundary Waters, a bucolic region of wilderness straddling the Canada-U.S. border between Ontario and Minnesota.
Amy’s kayak tipped over; she fell in. And as beautiful as this area is, for a very, very few, it also can be deadly. Amy was exposed to the blastomycosis fungus, which infects maybe one or two people out of every 100,000 people who are exposed to it.
She fell into a coma and remained there for six weeks. At one point, doctors told Ross she had a 30 or 40 percent chance of survival.
Today, more than ten surgeries later, after learning how to swallow again and walk again and talk again, Amy is thriving.
And – because the Affordable Care Act banned the previous, odious practice of annual and lifetime caps on health care benefits, Amy and Ross did not have to file for bankruptcy. (Amy’s initial, three-month hospital stay in 2011 resulted in $1.4 million in medical bills; last year alone, their insurance company was billed $400,000 for Amy’s treatment, which includes expensive IV immunotherapy.)
Ross worries not only about the ban on lifetime caps being lifted, but also about the requirement that insurance companies not discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions. (“No insurance company would touch Amy unless it was required to by law,” Ross says.)
And he is understandably angry and concerned about the proposals to scale back the ACA.
“Despite the fact that we have been fortunate enough to have had great insurance since we moved to Iowa, we would have gone bankrupt had it not been for the elimination of lifetime caps on medical benefits that was a direct result of the ACA,” Ross said at Thursday’s Des Moines rally. “This fight for me isn’t some abstract ideal, in fact it’s pretty damned personal, and it’s why I am here today.”
Ross acknowledges that the ACA is far from perfect. “Too many people are still uninsured because of uncertainty brought on by the Trump administration and this Congress. It has become nearly impossible for an individual in Iowa to purchase a health insurance policy….But you know what? These problems are all eminently fixable. These solutions don’t cost a lot and are not especially complex. They just require a resolve to fix them. That’s what we elect our leaders to do, right? To fix problems?”
And he uses an interesting analogy to describe the approach taken by ACA opponents.
“So, what do we do in this nation when we build a beautiful new house? We move in. We like it. Then we find out that the faucet leaks a little and a few of the light bulbs have burnt out. Of course! We move out, we burn the whole house down, and we start building a new one. A smaller one, with less faucets and lights. Silly me. That would be stupid, right? Right?”
Meanwhile, 1,012 miles away from Ross and his beloved wife Amy, Senate GOP leaders are pushing for a health care vote next week.
Please call your senators today and tell them to defeat their terrible bill. You can call toll-free 1-855-764-1010. Enter your zip code when prompted, and you’ll be connected with their office.