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Monday, October 25, 2010

How health reform helps: Firsthand stories

Elizabeth Prescott

Staff Writer

Last Monday, the U.S. District Court in Virginia heard Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s politically motivated suit against the Affordable Care Act. At a press conference preceding the hearing, Families USA featured three health care consumers who would lose major consumer protections if the Attorney General had his way. Amidst all the political posturing and frivolous lawsuits, it’s essential to bring the conversation back to what this law is really about—providing all Americans with a safety net that will always be there when they need it.

Kathleen Mason, a recent graduate of George Mason University, shared her experience on Monday. Her family’s insurance plan booted her from its rolls when she turned 23, and the job she’s had since graduating in May does not provide her with coverage. Fortunately, the new law will allow Kathleen to get back onto her parents’ health care plan.

Paul Brayshaw has hemophilia, a bleeding disorder in which his blood does not clot readily. Prevention of dangerous bleeds involves treatment that can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars a month. Because of this high cost, Paul almost went over his $1 million cap in 2006. As a result, Paul found himself considering changing jobs, moving to a different state, or even filing for disability. Fortunately, his employer came through with a higher cap, but he knows it that can’t last forever. Thanks to the new law, he won’t be faced with such a crisis again.

Alexa Farber was laid off last year, a circumstance that more and more Americans can relate to. Since running out of mini-COBRA (the only continuation coverage available to small business employees), she’s been completely uninsured, unable to get coverage at a reasonable price because of her pre-existing conditions, which include an autoimmune disorder for which she needs regular tests and specialty visits. In a few years, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny Alexa coverage because of her pre-existing conditions.

Kathleen and Paul are already experiencing the benefits of the new law—and in a couple years, consumers like Alexa will feel more secure in their health coverage.

But Attorney General Cuccinelli doesn’t want us to make it that far. He and others who oppose the Affordable Care Act don’t want the public to hear stories of how millions have and will benefit from the provisions—probably because it’s politically inconvenient to his cause. But, those of us who have our own stories, or know the stories of others, cannot afford to stop telling them. If you or someone you know will see (or has already seen) benefits of reform that will evaporate if the Affordable Care Act is overturned, make your voice heard! Like Kathleen, Paul, and Alexa, you can make a big difference in the effort to educate the public about the benefits of this law and real consequences of political game-playing. Go here to share your story with us.