For Julie Ross, the looming repeal of the Affordable Care Act isn’t an abstract political issue. It’s a life-or-death matter for her 4 1/2-year-old daughter, who was born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart condition and spent her first month in the neonatal intensive care unit.
In the pre-Affordable Care Act era, when insurers could impose lifetime limits on benefits, hers was $500,000. “She would have reached that in her first two weeks,” Ross says.
For Colleen Mondor, whose 15-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 3 and controls it today with four visits a year to a pediatric endocrinologist, repeal would mean shutting down the aircraft leasing company that she and her husband started and finding a job with employer-paid insurance. “So instead of building our own company, we’ll be taking jobs away from people who need them.”
Pre-Obamacare, every insurer she applied to for coverage asked about her family’s medical histories. When she told them about her son’s diabetes, as she tweeted earlier this month: “That was the end of the conversation, every. single. time.”
Steve Waxman, 59, an independent filmmaker in Miami, had a heart attack before Obamacare was enacted, but he had insurance. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed and protections for those with preexisting conditions are eroded, he’d be red-tagged as a potentially costly repeat patient. “Life is a preexisting medical condition,” he observes. “Only in America can you go bankrupt because of it.”
David Zasloff, 55, of North Hollywood is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in 2015. Without the Affordable Care Act, treatment “would have cost everything I had, including my niece’s college fund,” he says. Now he has a Blue Shield silver plan via Covered California, the state’s Obamacare exchange, and pays $144 a month to cover most of his treatment and medication.
Ross, Mondor, Waxman and Zasloff, and countless more like them, live in abject fear that Republicans will follow through on their determination to repeal the Affordable Care Act, without passing a replacement that will maintain the crucial protections the law has given them. Obamacare’s critics have painted a picture of the law that is wholly negative: that it’s a “disaster,” that it’s in a “death spiral,” that it’s caused a “struggle” for families that use it.