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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

The Affordable Care Act: Stories from Oregon

The Affordable Care Act is under attack. President Trump and congressional Republicans are threatening to repeal the landmark healthcare law without any plan to replace it. Nearly 27,000 people in Oregon’s 4th congressional district are enrolled in the healthcare marketplace and risk losing their healthcare coverage if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. To show how important the ACA is, I am highlighting stories of people in southwestern Oregon whose lives have been impacted—and sometimes, saved—by the Affordable Care Act. 

 

Susan from Springfield:
In 2008, I experienced a major medical issue involving my heart. I was uninsured, hospitalized and in the intensive care unit. I was given a diagnosis of heart failure without a known cause. I was now uninsurable because of a “pre-existing condition”. The cost for one night in intensive care (and there were many) was $27,000—not including medication, tests, or cardiac specialists.

I lost my ability to work at all. I could no longer afford to see any doctor other than at the local county medical clinic. They could not properly treat me because I could not afford the additional testing required to rule out, or confirm a diagnosis, nor see a specialist that could. I was prescribed medications that I could not afford, and began experiencing very serious side effects to the medications.

I sold my house during the “housing crash” to pay my medical bills. Within a short period of time, I was broke, unable to work, and now homeless. I cannot begin to express not only the fear, shame, and absolute humility I felt not being able to take care of myself- having to rely on others for a roof over my head, but even more so, my inability to help my children during such a critical time in their lives. I could not afford to get the mental health support I needed during these times. I was told I was dying and that I needed to get my affairs in order.

When the Affordable Care Act became law, I was able to get insurance, and was able to see the specialists I needed. I was told that I have three to five years to live from the date of my original diagnosis. That was 2008. It is now 2017. If I had not received the insurance that I did, I would not have received the care that I did, and I would have died.

Cherry, from Albany:
Prior to my husband’s death in 2012, we both had health care through his employer. When my husband passed away I was offered the choice of staying on that same plan through COBRA—at the cost of almost $700 a month. I could not afford this.

Instead, the only insurance that I could afford was catastrophic health insurance, which allowed me to go to the doctor with a co-pay of $30 four times a year, or a specialist with a co-pay of $50 four times a year. If I needed to see either after this, my insurance covered nothing until I paid the $11,000 deductible. To have this insurance, I was paying over $300 a month.

After the Affordable Care Act passed, I was finally able to afford healthcare that covered all my medical care. It is my fear that if the Affordable Health Care is repealed, I and millions of others will not be able to afford health care that covers our needs. It feels as if we are losing so much as it is.

Stacey, from Roseburg:
I am a nurse and small business owner in Roseburg, OR. In 2007 I lost my healthcare through divorce and was not eligible for coverage through my employer because I was self-employed full-time and only worked part-time at the local hospital. Both my son and I were declined healthcare when I applied for coverage due to pre-existing conditions: My son had had bronchitis in the last two years, and I had osteoporosis. We were otherwise healthy, non-smokers.
 

Today, I still do not have employer-based health insurance but have purchased it through the exchange for my husband and myself. We do not qualify for any assistance and the premiums are high but I am very grateful for our plan and our pre-tax HSA contributions over the past four years.
 

I do not have a dramatic story. This is a story that many of us share and there are MANY stories that are dramatic with lives being saved by the ACA throughout our country. Please do not allow the ACA to be repealed.


Peter, from Eugene:
Several years ago I had the great pleasure of retiring at the age of 60.. And then….. at 62 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was devastated, but with radical prostatectomy surgery I am now cancer free. But the surgery was expensive. I very quickly hit the out of pocket limits of my insurance plan but not having insurance would have been financial overwhelming. Without the ACA I’m not sure if I would have had insurance. Without insurance I’m not sure my cancer would have been caught and treated so early. I feel like I owe my life to the ACA, if not my life, then at least a big chunk of my retirement savings.


Jay, from Eugene:
“In 2015 I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer as well. I was given a life expectancy of only 2 – 3 years with treatment and was told that without treatment, I would die within three months. With treatment, I only had a 50% chance of going into remission.

 
“For the past two years, I have been on and off chemotherapy treatments. The costs of these treatments left me barely able to avoid bankruptcy, and in February 2016 my home was nearly foreclosed on. It was incredibly stressful to live in fear of foreclosure while going through chemotherapy."
 
“The only way that I could get access to this care—in fact, the only way that I was able to go to the doctor to receive my diagnosis—was through the Affordable Care Act. I read that former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint called Obamacare “a cancer on our healthcare system.” He wouldn’t say that to my face. It saved my life.
 
“Thankfully, my home was saved with the help of my brother and the Home Affordable Refinance Program. Today, I am healthier and am trying to pay it forward as an advocate for the Affordable Care Act: if President Trump and Congressional Republicans take our insurance, thousands of people will die. I’m proof of that.”
 
"It's important that everyone understands they we are fathers, mothers, grandparents, brothers, sisters and friends. Not just statistics."
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