August 3, 2017 • BLOG ENTRY

Why saving the ACA matters

At some point, every American will have to deal with some type of major health-related issue. Whether it be an accident, unexpected illness, or just the effects of the aging process, no one is immune from dealing with the American healthcare system. Unfortunately for some, those unexpected illnesses hit some harder than others. My friend Lauren is a part of one of those families.

A few years ago, Lauren's brother-in-law was battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatment. In the middle of receiving this life-saving therapy, he was told that he had reached his insurance cap. He was basically told to die or go bankrupt. This was before the ACA became law. Needless to say, Lauren has been a huge proponent in the fight to protect this landmark legislation.

Well, as “luck” would have it, Lauren just found herself the beneficiary of the ACA. A week ago, she was so sick that she ended up in the hospital for several days. She received excellent care at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, New Jersey. While she was there she could focus her energy on getting well and not worry about whether she would be able to pay for her care.

You see, Lauren is self-employed and she buys her insurance off the federal exchange due to Governor Chris Christie’s decision to prevent New Jersey from participating in a state exchange. Her insurance is not inexpensive – she and her husband pay about $14,000 a year in premiums. Her maximum out of pocket costs are $7,000.

While these are certainly high expenses, thankfully Lauren and her husband are able to budget for them. She’s home now continuing to recuperate without the worry of whether her care will be covered if she ends up back in the hospital. Her insurance company cannot arbitrarily stop paying her costs and they cannot deny her coverage due to a now pre-existing condition.

Is the ACA perfect? Not a chance. But the Republicans in Congress have had seven years to come up with a better plan. Instead, they simply voted 67 times to repeal it. Under the leadership of Paul Ryan, the House Republicans voted to pass a bill that would leave 23 million Americans without access to health care.

Last week, Republicans failed to repeal the ACA, but not before forcing America to watch in horror as Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to arm-wrestle his caucus into submission. It was merely the top line in a shameful week that saw Rep. Blake Farhenthold, R-Texas, challenge Sens. Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito, and Lisa Murkowski to a duel because they had the audacity to stand up and speak for their constituents back home and not simply fall in line behind their party rhetoric. Maybe the gentleman from Texas is just a hot-head, but where are his colleagues and why have they not reprimanded him for such despicable behavior? Their silence speaks volumes.

My decision to run for Congress grew out of my horror in the election of a man who is an insult to everything I believe. My motivation to keep fighting comes from stories like Lauren’s. Washington can and must do better to ensure access to health care. Attempts to repeal the ACA altogether or to replace it with a plan that will leave over 20 million Americans without health care and leave those with pre-existing conditions to the whim of predatory insurance companies is unacceptable. If I have the honor of representing New Jersey’s 7th District in Congress, I will fight every single day for my friend Lauren and the millions of other Americans who, like her, should never be one illness or hospital stay away from bankruptcy.