Several years ago, a sudden, “catastrophic” diagnosis of end-stage renal disease forced Monica Fox to stop working.
“I spent three years on dialysis — three days, four hours at a time,” said Fox, who received a kidney transplant five months ago, a gift she attributed to the Affordable Care Act.
Fox spoke at a May 5 press conference convened at Loretto Hospital in Austin by U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (7th), Rev. Jesse Jackson and other lawmakers, healthcare providers and union officials one day after the House Republicans narrowly passed a bill designed to repeal and replace the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare.
Fox and others who spoke at the press conference variously called the Republican plan “Trump-care,” “Trump-don’t-care” and “Nothing-care.”
“The ACA made it possible for me to have the proper insurance I need,” said Fox, who lives in the south suburbs.
“While I have been unable to work, I’m getting to the point of going back to work. If [the Republican plan] goes into effect, I will be faced with devastating news that I have a pre-existing condition that may not be covered by my employer’s insurance,” she said. “That’s disgusting and whoever thinks that’s a good idea is sick.”
The Republican plan, which passed 217 to 213 on a party-line vote, now makes its way to the Senate, where many Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including Davis, believe it’s likely to either die from lack of support or be completely overhauled.
The House bill that passed Thursday is the Republican Party’s second attempt to repeal and replace the ACA since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Both attempts have generated considerable popular backlash.
According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released in March, voters in the U.S. oppose the GOP health plan by a 3 to 1 margin.
“Disapproval of the Republican plan is 56 – 22 percent among men, 56 – 13 percent among women, 54 – 20 percent among white voters, 64 – 10 percent among non-white voters, 80 – 3 percent among Democrats, 58 – 14 percent among independent voters and by margins of 2-1 or more in every age group,” reads a statement released by Quinnipiac in March.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the first version of the Republican bill, which failed to come to a vote, would take away health insurance from 24 million Americans within 10 years, cut federal funding of Planned Parenthood and it could spell the end of Medicaid expansion, a provision of the ACA which allowed millions of low-income Americans to receive health coverage, among other possible consequences.
During last Friday’s press conference, Jackson and others didn’t mince words when talking about the Republican plan’s potential effects on the lives of poor, elderly, disabled and minority Americans.
“In Illinois, 37 percent of the children receive coverage through Medicaid. There are 649,000 Illinoisans enrolled under ACA and this bill is designed … cut that out and replace it with Trumpcare, Nothingcare,” Davis said.
“Implementation of the Republican bill will lead to loss of coverage for 24 million people nationwide. Overall, 44,269 Illinois residents covered under the ACA and [more than 252,000] are covered under expanded Medicaid, which will be in danger in Illinois.”
“This is a shame, an international disgrace,” said Jackson, who also said that the attempt to repeal the ACA marked “the unraveling of our democracy.”
State Rep. Camille Lilly (78th), who is also Loretto’s vice president for external affairs and development, said that the repeal of the ACA will “harm our local community here in Austin and on the West Side. It will devastate us.”
Lilly referenced a bill she introduced that allows felons returning home from prison to get signed up with the ACA 45 days before their scheduled release.
Loretto’s CEO and chief medical officer, Dr. Sonia Mehta, said that a possible repeal of ACA would “negatively impact our ability to take care of our communities.” Mehta said that 85 percent of Loretto’s patients are enrolled in either Medicare or Medicaid.
Oak Park resident Melanie McQueen said that the bill will put children with preexisting conditions in danger.
“This is literally a life and death situation,” she said. “There’s no reason in today’s age we have children who will die because of something preventative. When we say it affects all of us, it affects even our unborn children.”