All posts in ACA

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns the massive coverage losses demonstrated in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the GOP Health Plan

Today, weeks after voting on the American Health Care Act, House Republicans finally know how much it will cost and how it will affect access to health insurance. Today the CBO confirmed what we already knew–the AHCA is dangerous and will strip health coverage from 23 million people. The CBO also confirmed that premiums will still increase by 20% next year.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the AHCA completely guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by allowing states to waive crucial parts of the ACA. The CBO estimates that one-sixth of the population in the U.S., or 51 million people, will lose these protections completely. In this scenario, the CBO reports that the individual market could collapse in these states, leaving health insurance too expensive for people with pre-existing conditions and resulting in the return of annual and lifetime limits.

Finally, the CBO reminds us that the American Health Care Act still enacts devastating and permanent cuts to Medicaid, reducing federal funding by $834 billion. This will result in millions of people losing coverage, most of them seniors, kids and people with disabilities. This is Robin Hood in reverse, transferring health care from low- and moderate-income people to give $664 Billion in tax cuts to wealthy individuals and massive corporations.

The CBO score confirms what we already knew: the Republican repeal bill doesn’t fix healthcare, it destroys access and protections under the ACA and makes things worse – particularly for families and for states, like Illinois, who will bear the burden of the shifting costs. Protect Our Care Illinois condemns the actions of our GOP members of Congress who voted for this bill on May 4 – and we look to Senators Durbin and Duckworth to reject the AHCA and instead develop proposals that improve, expand, and protect healthcare.

Here are three things you can do NOW to make your voice heard:

  1. Call Gov. Rauner at 312-814-2121 and demand that he publicly oppose the American Health Care Act, which will cost Illinois billions of dollars in Medicaid funding and thousands of jobs.
  2. Call your member of Congress at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they publicly oppose the American Health Care Act.
  3. Forward this immediately to 10 friends and family members in Illinois, especially if they live outside of Chicago. You can also share these steps on social media using #ilsaveaca

You can learn more about the next steps for the American Health Care Act and what you can do by listening to the latest POCIL podcast here!

Protect Our Care Illinois condemns House vote in favor of the AHCA

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives muscled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through to passage by the slim margin of 217-213. The vote came after several intense days of pressure from Congressional leaders to vote for the AHCA in spite of the opposition of millions of constituents and the entire health care sector. It is unfortunate that this pressure temporarily won out, but this careless, cruel, and tremendously unpopular bill still has far to go before becoming law. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition and the thousands of concerned citizens it represents will oppose it every step of the way.

“Today’s vote brings Illinois one step closer to the brink, threatening a loss of health coverage for millions of Illinoisans, the loss of tens of thousands of Illinois jobs, and a loss of billions in federal funds that support Illinois’ state budget,” said AIDS Foundation of Chicago President/CEO John Peller. “It is simply unconscionable that any member of the Illinois Congressional Delegation would support this bill and put the health and financial well-being of several million Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions at risk. We are outraged that all seven House Republicans of the Illinois Delegation (Rep. Bost, Rep. Hultgren, Rep. Kinzinger, Rep. Davis, Rep. Shimkus and Rep. LaHood) supported it and we are frankly shocked at the reversal of so many promises to ensure those with pre-existing conditions were protected.

”The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition fiercely condemns this vote. Recent amendments to weaken protections against pre-existing condition discrimination made a bad bill even worse. Not only does it gut Medicaid and raise costs on older Americans by the thousands, it now lets insurance companies charge sick enrollees higher premiums, effectively pricing them out of care. Those with pre-existing conditions will be protected in name only and our health care system will return to the days where you can be denied care based on your health condition.

Simply put, this is a terrible bill that will cover fewer people, with weaker protections, at higher costs for Illinoisans.

The AHCA still has many procedural hurdles, including likely amendments in the Senate, floor debate and vote in the Senate, and a possible second vote in the House to accept changes from the Senate. The Protect Our Care Illinois coalition will continue to educate the public on the dangers of this bill and engage even more Illinoisans in the fight to protect Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. We implore Governor Rauner to speak out against the AHCA as it is voted on in the Senate and for the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation to vote against this bill if and when it returns to the House for a final vote.

Protect Our Care – Illinois is a statewide coalition of health care advocates, providers, consumers, and workers, working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), prevent disastrous changes to Medicaid, and protect and expand access to quality affordable health care.

Call NOW! Vote on ACA repeal scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The US House is debating the disastrous American Health Care Act today. This bill will rip health insurance away from 24 million people, make devastating cuts to Medicaid, and completely gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions; all while providing a massive tax cut for the wealthiest and major corporations.

Call your Representative RIGHT NOW at 1-866-877-3303 and demand that they vote NO on the American Health Care Act. Key members of Congress from Illinois are still undecided–your call is vital and could make all the difference.

The House is voting despite:

  • Not having an updated score from the Congressional Budget Office after the bill was amended twice;
  • A Wall Street Journal article pointing out how individuals getting health insurance from their employers (about 50 percent of Americans) could face annual and lifetime limits again;
  • Exempting themselves from the weakened protections forced on everyone else; and
  • AHCA being opposed by groups across the whole spectrum of the country:
    • Health providers including AMA, AAP, ACP, National Physicians Alliance, American Nurses Association, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons;
    • Hospitals — AHA, America’s Essential Hospitals, Catholic Health Association, Federation of American Hospitals;
    • Patient Advocacy Groups including American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, JDRF, March of Dimes, National Organization for Rare Diseases, National MS Society, WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease;
    • Hundreds of consumer advocacy organizations including AARP, APHA, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Disability Rights Network, Consumers Union, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, and Young Invincibles; and
    • Non-Health Groups – American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, and National Farmers Union.

Please keep calling, keep the pressure up on social media, and come out to these protests, many which began at 9 a.m. this morning. 

SPRINGFIELD
Starting at 9 a.m.
235 S 6th Street
Outside and inside Rep. LaHood’s office 

CHAMPAIGN
Starting at 9 a.m.
2004 Fox Drive
Outside and inside Rep. Rodney Davis office

BLOOMINGTON
Starting at 9 a.m.
3004 G.E. Road, Suite 1B
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

PEORIA
Starting at 9 a.m.
100 NE Monroe Street, Room 100
Outside and Inside Rep. LaHood’s office

CAMPTON HILLS
Starting at 5 p.m.
40W310 Lafox Road, #F2
Outside and inside Rep. Hultgren’s office

MARYVILLE
Starting at 9 a.m.
15 Professional Park Drive
Outside and inside Reps. Shimkus and Davis’s Office

O’FALLON
Starting at 9 a.m.
302 West State Street
Outside and inside Rep. Bost’s office

WHEATON
Starting at 4:45 p.m.
Arrowhead Golf Club 26W151 Butterfield Rd (Roskam)

The fight to undermine the ACA lives on

The decision on March 24, 2017 to indefinitely postpone a vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was a thrilling, but temporary, victory in the campaign to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicaid. Opponents of the ACA still have many opportunities to undermine the ACA and Medicaid. While news reports of new pushes to pass the an amended AHCA or other ACA repeal legislation are likely to persist, many of the most credible threats to the ACA and Medicaid will come from more indirect sources – decisions made by the Trump administration, decisions made by private insurance companies, from budget cuts, or even from offhand comments or tweets. These subtler dangers to our health care system pose serious threats in their own right, but also represent grave risks in the battle for public opinion. We must be ready to drive the public narrative before any sabotage take place, so that any blame for an underperforming ACA system is placed squarely at the feet of those who have deliberately undermined it.

ACA/Medicaid threats on the horizon

Here are threats to the ACA and Medicaid that remain even if there is not an imminent vote on an ACA repeal bill:

  • Discontinuing Cost-Sharing Reduction payments: The ACA provides subsidies – called Cost-Sharing Reductions (CSRs) — to help people with lower incomes pay for out-of-pocket costs (e.g., deductibles and co-payments). Six million people get CSRs and in 2016, 156,500 Illinois Marketplace enrollees received CSRs. The Trump administration has the power – right now – to end these subsidies thanks to a 2015 lawsuit alleging these payments are illegal. This the most clear and immediate risk to the ACA. Without the CSRs, actual premiums paid by clients could go up by 20% or more, insurers would drop out, and enrollment would decrease. This is already causing uncertainty and real harm to the prospects for the 2018 plan year, but could be easily addressed if the Trump administration publicly stated their intent to continue these payments, or if Congress appropriated the necessary funds.

 

  • Poor private insurer participation in the Marketplace: The ACA Marketplace depends on participation by private health insurers. Exits by large insurers such as United Healthcare and Aetna over the last year or two have damaged the law’s standing in the eyes of many and resulted in reduced competition and choice for enrollees. This is a problem – and it could get much worse. Insurers will be announcing from now until June their plans regarding 2018 participation and what they will charge in premiums. High profile exits or large premiums increases could destabilize the market and breathe new energy into the push to repeal the ACA. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the ACA contributes to the flight risk; conversely, agreements to resist short-term tinkering could stabilize the market.

 

  • Administrative policy changes: Many provisions of the law are determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and other members of the administration. A number of changes – that the administration can make more or less unilaterally – could weaken the ACA. Some potential changes have already occurred through the “Market Stabilization Rules” that were just finalized this month and some proposed changes include weakening enforcement of the individual mandate, removing funding from the navigator program, and changing the definitions for Essential Health Benefits. Some of these changes do not even require formal public notice and could fly under the radar while doing real damage. Medicaid is also at risk due to an intention to allow states to impose work requirements, premiums, and other barriers in the name of demonstration projects or waivers. We must continue to monitor these actions and publicize them.

 

  • Policy riders: In Congress, controversial legislative changes are hard to pass on their own. They are instead often added to large pieces of legislation that need to pass, like government funding bills. These amendments to larger pieces of legislation are called ‘riders’ and they can do serious damage. In fact, the premium increases seen in 2016 were due in part to a policy rider that prohibited funds from being used to stabilize premium prices (known as risk corridor payments). This is technical and sneaky; but it can have a real impact. Legislation to fund the federal government before a government shutdown is being debated this week. We must be prepared to advocate against attempts to deconstruct the ACA through this back-door.

 

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program reauthorization: The biggest “must pass” health care legislation on deck in 2017 is the reauthorization of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Opponents of Medicaid could use this reauthorization as a bargaining chip to undermine the adult Medicaid program or other federal health programs. Legislation is likely to be negotiated over the summer and will need to be passed by Sept. 30. We need to monitor progress of this legislation.  It is not too soon to begin talking to representatives and senators about this important re-authorization.

Stay involved and speak out

This laundry list of horrors does not have to come to pass. Advocates must stay vigilant as we navigate this new, less straightforward phase of the campaign. We can and must speak out about them to make sure policy makers know we’re watching. Sign up for Protect Our Care – Illinois email alerts and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

The most pressing issue for now is funding for the Cost-Sharing Reductions. Please view our CSR fact sheet for ideas on how to speak out.

The opponents of the ACA are counting on us letting our guard down and being able to slip these changes in unnoticed. But we can make them think twice if we let them know we have our eyes on them. And with commitment and a little luck, we can protect the ACA and Medicaid – now and for future generations.

Attend an ACA rally today, March 23

Today, the day we should be celebrating the 7th anniversary of the ACA, Speaker Ryan will call the American Health Care Act for a vote in the US House of Representatives. If passed, this bill will:

  • Strip health insurance away from 24 million people, including at least 1 million Illinoisans;
  • Reduce the quality of health insurance for everyone; and
  • Enact permanent and devastating cuts to the Medicaid program.

The bill does this all while giving a massive tax break to the wealthiest Americans and huge corporations.

This week we’ve asked you to do a lot–make phone calls, tweet at your legislator, and go live on Facebook—now we need you to show up. 

We have partnered with groups across the state to host anniversary celebrations, which can now double as protests of the disastrous GOP health bill. Concerned citizens will deliver birthday cake, balloons and pennies (copper is the traditional 7th anniversary gift!) to offices and talk about the danger to their community if the ACA is repealed.

Be heard! Attend one of the events below or grab some neighbors and go the Congressional office nearest you. Either way, be sure to post pictures and videos with #ILsaveACA!

Downtown Chicago Rally

4 p.m. – Kluczynski Federal Building
230 S Dearborn St, Chicago

12th District—Mike Bost

1 p.m. – O’Fallon Office
301, W State Street, O’Fallon

13th District—Rodney Davis

12 p.m. – Champaign Office
2004 Fox Dr., Champaign

3 p.m. – Decatur Office
243 S Water Street, Suite 100, Decatur

3 p.m. –  Maryville Office
15 Professional Park Dr, Maryville

5 p.m. – Taylorville Office
108 E Market, Taylorville

14th District—Randy Hultgren

3 p.m. – Campton Hills Office
40W310 Lafox Rd, #F2, Campton Hills

15th District—John Shimkus

3 p.m. – Maryville Office
15 Profesional Park Dr., Maryville

16th District—Adam Kinzinger

3 p.m. – Ottawa Office
628 Columbus ST, Suite 507, Ottawa

6 p.m. – Rockford
Kate’s Pie Shop Café & Records
6685 E State St, Rockford

18th District—Darin LaHood

12 p.m. – Springfield Office
235 S Sixth St, Springfield

3 p.m. – Peoria Office
100 NE Monroe St #100, Peoria

Watch the webinar: Defending the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid

Dowload the Slides!

This webinar is geared towards newer advocates working to defend access to quality, affordable health care. Watch the webinar to learn about  the latest threats to ACA and Medicaid; advocacy strategies, engagement opportunities, and community mobilization tips; how to connect with current advocacy efforts throughout Illinois; examples of actions you can take TODAY to protect our care; and available advocacy resources and support.

Speakers include:

– Stephani Becker, Senior Policy Specialist, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
– Maxx Boykin, Community Advocacy and Social Justice Manager, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
– Scott Cross, Volunteer Lead, Organizing for America-Springfield
– Daniel Rabbit, Project Manager of Health Policy, Heartland Alliance
– Kathleen Winters, Volunteer, The People’s Agenda-Champaign

Click here to download the slides!

Watch the webinar!


Webinar resources

ACA/Medicaid Expansion Talking Points for Meetings with Conservative Legislators in Illinois

In-district meetings with elected officials will be critical in defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially with Republicans who have voiced support for the ACA repeal. They need to know how the ACA repeal will impact their constituents. Below are some talking points to help you organize what to share. You certainly don’t need to touch on all of these points, but think of this as a menu for what could be helpful in speaking to a conservative lawmaker about the ACA.

Don’t vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan that provides comprehensive coverage for at least as many people as the ACA does

  • This is the most important message – make sure they know that is what you expect as a constituent
  • If on a relevant committee (Rep Roskam (IL-6), Rep Shimkus (IL-15), Rep Kinzinger (IL-16)), press them to oppose irresponsible ACA repeal plans in committee
  • Try to get a commitment on these points

The ACA is working for my program and those we serve

  • Mention any new staff you have been able to hire
  • Any new sites or programs you have been able to start
  • Any services your program participants can now access that they couldn’t before
  • Share how the new staff, sites, and services are lowering costs and aiding the economy
  • Share what the landscape was like for your program before the ACA and how it has improved post-ACA – emphasize that you don’t want to go back to the pre-ACA days

The ACA has helped real people in our communities

  • A program participant who has turned their life around thanks to the ACA
  • Someone who has had their life saved or avoided financial ruin thanks to the ACA
  • A friend or family member who benefited thanks to the ACA
  • Stories related to how the ACA is helping to combat the opioid epidemic

Repealing the ACA would harm my program and those we serve

  • Share any numbers or analysis you might have done on how losing ACA-related revenue would impact your program’s budget
  • Any expected layoffs or closures in the event of an ACA repeal
  • Impact on specific populations like seniors, people with disabilities, kids, women, or those struggling with mental illness or substance use disorders

It is irresponsible to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan available to the public

  • We are very concerned about what might replace the ACA, and so far, we haven’t seen a replacement plan
  • Governor Rauner and many other conservative Governors and Senators have expressed concern over repealing the ACA without a full replacement. Where do you stand?
  • We hear from participants and community members all the time about how they’re worried about what is going to happen
  • Why is the replacement plan not public? The public has a right to know what you’re proposing before you repeal what is currently working
  • Congress needs to be careful and thoughtful – you should not rush. The ACA only passed after hundreds bipartisan of hearings and almost a year of debate. It should not be undone in a matter of weeks.
  • The Marketplace will collapse without a viable replacement – even if repeal is delayed

Our sector can’t handle any further disruption after the Illinois budget crisis

  • Share how stretched thin you already are due to delayed payments, having taken out lines of credit, and other consequences of the two year state budget impasse

Helpful Rebuttals to Arguments for ACA Repeal or Medicaid Block Grants/Per Capita Caps

Advocates should be prepared to push back against likely criticisms of the ACA and certain conservative proposals. This is critical so that lawmakers who state such talking points feel the pressure and discomfort with their current proposals from their constituents. We want them to think twice about towing the party line and want to hold them accountable when they state misleading points.

Don’t worry – we will replace the ACA with something terrific

  • Press them on the specifics of the plan – will it cover the same number of people? Will people get the same or more financial support? Will current enrollees keep their coverage? Will it cover the same services?
  • There is much talk about reducing costs, but reducing costs for whom? Will costs for low and moderate income beneficiaries go down? How will that be achieved?
  • Get them to explain how the replacement plan would impact your programs

We will retain the popular parts of the law, like prohibiting pre-existing condition discrimination, prohibition on annual and lifetime caps, and other insurance regulations

  • Press them for how they propose to keep the popular parts without the individual mandate. Other states have tried that and it has not worked. How do they plan to keep these requirements and still keep costs down?
  • They may mention requiring people to have ‘continuous coverage’ in order to qualify for insurance with a pre-existing condition. Continuous coverage means you cannot go without insurance, which is very difficult for low income families or people who experience a crisis like job loss or sudden health needs.

The ACA is collapsing on its own

  • Medicaid expansion is working great for our program and those we serve
  • Over one million people have gotten insurance through the ACA – about 650,000 in Medicaid and 350,000 on the Marketplace
  • More people have signed up on the Marketplace this open enrollment than ever before
  • The ACA needs improvement, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Why not just improve it? Repair the ACA rather than causing all this chaos.

Costs are spiraling out of control

  • Repealing the ACA will not help rising health care costs, which have been increasing for years – long before the ACA
  • The ACA has actually helped slow the growth of health care costs
  • Most of our program participants and neighbors with ACA coverage are on Medicaid or receive a subsidy, making coverage affordable

Don’t worry – the repeal is delayed

  • A delayed repeal will cause chaos – how can we plan for the future? How will the uncertainty affect the economic growth?
  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the non-group insurance market will likely collapse without a replacement, even if the repeal is delayed, leading to 18 million people losing coverage nationwide the very next year and premiums spiking after that

Medicaid expansion is crowding out the ‘truly needy’

  • Access to care for Medicaid enrollees has not diminished since Medicaid expansion – in fact, it has improved as providers have been able to invest in new staff and facilities thanks to Medicaid expansion dollars
  • Many who qualify under Medicaid expansion are truly needy. Most individuals experiencing homelessness and many of those struggling with severe mental illness or addiction qualify under Medicaid expansion.

Medicaid expansion has caused waitlists for seniors and people with disabilities

  • Waitlists have existed for many years and are actually increasing at a slower rate since the ACA was passed than they had the previous decade
  • Waitlists in Illinois are caused by insufficient funding of our home and community based services programs. Without Medicaid, this funding deficit would be much worse.
  • Access to nursing homes and home and community based services for seniors and people with disabilities is not limited by the Medicaid expansion population – it is limited by state funding and eligibility requirements. The infusion of federal dollars from Medicaid expansion has helped the state avoid further waitlists and restrictions.

Block grants will give the state needed flexibility in its Medicaid program and control costs

  • Governor Rauner has so far expressed concern about Medicaid block grants. Aren’t you concerned about how this could impact our state and our precarious budget situation?
  • All Medicaid block grant proposals and similar reforms would dramatically cut federal funding and shift costs to the states. This will harm my program and the state.
  • States need resources in order to be innovative and take advantage of any flexibility –how can we be innovative with significantly less money?
  • There is nowhere to reduce Medicaid spending further in Illinois. Medicaid spending has grown much more slowly that private insurance and Illinois has very low rates.
  • The Illinois behavioral health 1115 Medicaid waiver is very innovative and crafted under the current Medicaid structure. But it needs resources and Medicaid expansion to work!
  • Most of the flexibilities we’ve heard about are work requirements, waiting lists, and higher costs for Medicaid beneficiaries. The people we serve who depend on Medicaid will have a hard time meeting those requirements because of their circumstances. What happens to them? They will likely end up in the ED, a hospital or institution, or jail if they go without care.

Why the ACA is Important to Me

Joyce from Chicago (Congressional District 1):

My mom is currently covered under Medicare. She is going blind in one eye and recently moved back to Illinois. I remembered that a Navigator signed her up last year and called to see if he could assist her again. He was able to help my mom sign up for Medicaid and QMB. He was able to give her a number for a local social security office to assist her in signing her up for disability. I was very grateful that he was able to assist her in a timely manner. We really need individuals like this gentleman who are very knowledgeable and genuine.


Janette from Chicago:

My husband and I are examples of people who are hard working and reasonably healthy, who benefited from Obamacare, and who have paid for full price coverage for ourselves ever since we enrolled. I am a psychotherapist and I treat people with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. My husband Bill has been a musician, singer, and music teacher for almost 30 years. We are both paid by the hour and do not have a salary or benefits. Obamacare was a lifesaver for our family, including Bill’s adult children, who we were able to cover under the new law. I can’t say how amazing it was to know that we could enroll without fear of denial of coverage for preexisting conditions or the age of my step children.

After the election, we were afraid we would lose our benefits. At the last minute we were offered health care benefits through my husband’s job. When I found out, I cried with relief to know we will have something more stable that cannot be used as a political tool. We are talking about life or death situations here. I have epilepsy and my husband has hypertension. Both are well managed. What would we do without the security of health care? It strikes me as horribly ironic that I could spend my work week in service to those among us who are traumatized, suicidal, depressed and anxious, and yet have my own ability to receive health care be threatened constantly and even taken away. What kind of people would do this to a whole population, knowing how disastrous the results will be?


Emily from Chicago:

Right after finishing my masters in 2010, I had to move back home to live with my parents because I couldn’t find a job in my field. Working part time in retail, I would never have been able to afford a good healthcare plan and make my student loan payments, car payments, car insurance payments, and pay for my other living expenses without the ACA. And even after I got a full time job in my field–a two year fellowship at a liberal arts college–the pay was not great, so with all my other expenses, I still would have had to drop health insurance so I could eat, pay rent, and get to work. The ACA allowed me to stay on my parents’ insurance policy until I was 26, and because of that I could afford to eat and go to the doctor and get my prescriptions filled. Moreover, because of the mandated coverage of birth control, I was able to get an IUD. My previous birth control medication had given me high blood pressure, and after the ACA I was able to get to an IUD, which is not only long lasting and less expensive long-term but also is most effective form of birth control you can be prescribed. The device and procedure costs at least $600 up front, and without mandated insurance coverage, I could not have afforded to get an IUD. With the insurance mandate, getting an IUD was completely covered. I owe my normal blood pressure, my ability to choose when and if to have children, and my ability to continue to work in the humanities to the ACA. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today–in a PhD program, pursuing my dream.


Gregory from Chicago:

My father was a teacher in New York City, and my family had group health insurance through the NYC Board of Education. After my brother and I finished college, we were on our own. I worked in a print shop and then the restaurant industry, but received no insurance. Eventually, a friend of mine convinced me to buy private insurance through the open market, which I did until I went to law school, got married, had kids and was on my wife’s health insurance through her job. After law school, I got a full time job which provided insurance. It was good insurance, but we had to pay more than $1000/month for it. By then, my wife was running a preschool, which was too small to provide insurance. When I lost my job, we lived without insurance for a few months, and then bought private insurance. But since I had had a gap for the first time in more than 20 years, the coverage was minimal and very expensive, and I was accused of having a pre-existing condition and denied future coverage permanently for a very minor ailment for which I had received treatment only twice. When the ACA began, we signed up immediately. If the ACA was eliminated, even though my wife works full time and I run a nonprofit organization, we would have to go back to buying insurance on the private market. We would be subject to unregulated pricing and reduced care. Our children would not have near the same quality of health care that we had when we were children. The costs would be outrageous. It is a national disgrace that health coverage is tied to employment in this country rather than living citizenship. And it is a national shame that we allow the insurance industry — which posts record profits with executives bringing home 8-and-9 digit annual salaries — to dictate our healthcare system.


David from Chicago:

I’m in the field of higher education- I work hard but have faced worsening job quality and increased job instability. Although I have taught a lot as a writing instructor and lecturer at the University of Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, neither has provided me with health insurance. The Affordable Care Act has not only provided me with quality, affordable care, but also given me peace of mind in this difficult time as I look to transition careers. I don’t know what I’d do without this safety net, especially if I ever face rocky employment again. If the ACA and my Marketplace plan were taken away and I got sick without insurance, I don’t know if I could ever get coverage again. I thought we were past those days for good.


Laura from Chicago:

In 2008, while I was living in Japan for work, I had a blood sugar test done that showed abnormal sugar levels. When I came back to the U.S. for grad school, I got an Aetna insurance policy as a student. I wanted to get a diagnosis for my high blood sugar, but before I even received one from a doctor, Aetna had already declared that I had a pre-existing diabetic condition. Because my previous insurer had been the Japanese health care system, I did not meet the minimum continuous coverage requirements and was prevented from getting the care I needed for a year- I couldn’t get my blood tests, test strips, or medication covered for 12 months even though I had insurance and paid my premiums every month. I was so relieved when the ACA passed because I thought no American, including me and my family members, would have to face this situation again. My sense of security has only lasted a few years, though, because of threats to repeal the ACA. I’ve seen the kind of care another country can provide for an affordable price. Repealing the ACA will take us backwards in so many ways. If every other first world country can figure it out, so can America.


Abisola from Chicago:

I am pregnant and on a Visa. I was able to apply for a Medicaid at a Federally Qualified Health Center to help pay for doctor visits and with the delivery of my baby.


Joslyn from Chicago:

I had coverage for myself through an employer, but my daughter did not. I was told by the doctor that she had been going to for years that they no longer accepted Medicaid. I went to see a navigator and they assisted me in signing my daughter up for AllKids. The navigator called the doctor and found out they started accepting Medicaid again. I was very relieved and thankful for the assistance of the Navigator- now I know that my daughter will still be able to go to the doctor that she has been seeing she was born.