Levin, Stabenow, Constituents Share ACA Impact Stories

Jul 6, 2017 Issues: Health Care

ROYAL OAK, MI – U.S. Rep. Sander Levin and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow were today joined at Beaumont Health in Royal Oak by constituents who shared personal stories of how the protections provided for in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helped them have affordable, quality health insurance in their time of need. Republicans have passed legislation in the U.S. House and are negotiating a bill in the U.S. Senate that would “repeal and replace,” the Affordable Care Act.

"This is a great country, and it became greater when we passed ACA. For us now to rip it up and essentially tell people they’re on their own, it would be a step back in the greatness of our country,” said Rep. Levin. “Everybody has a right to see a physician, to have preventive care, to not essentially be second class. Everybody in this country is a first class person in terms of needing health care.”

Thanks to the ACA, the uninsured rate in Michigan has dropped from 12.4% in 2010 to 6.1% in 2015. More than 660,000 Michiganders have insurance thanks to the Medicaid expansion, Healthy Michigan, and about another 321,000 purchased insurance through the exchange. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that 22 million Americans would lose coverage under the Senate Republican ACA repeal plan.

At the event, several individuals shared how the ACA has helped them and their families. They  were joined by others who did not speak, but had similar stories. A brief summary of those who spoke is below:

Lindsay Helfman, Hazel Park: The ACA has impacted nearly everyone in my family. When I was 13, my mom decided to go back to school to get a degree as a Physician’s Assistant, to earn more money for our college educations and to buy a house (we had been living with my Grandma). When she went back to school we lost our insurance. If we had to see a dentist or a doctor my mom paid out of pocket. This meant that we really only sought care if it was absolutely essential.

I’m currently a graduate student. I bought a policy in 2013 because my husband and I wanted to have a child. After my daughter was born, my family qualified for Medicaid under the expansion. I literally cannot express the peace of mind that I have because my daughter can access routine and emergency medical care because of the ACA and Medicaid expansion.

Stefanie Mezigian, Livonia: For my entire adult life, I have worked in the customer service industry. I've never worked for an employer who has offered healthcare coverage, so until the ACA was passed, I never had healthcare coverage. Through the ACA I was able to purchase a silver plan through Total Health Care.

In December of 2015, the apartment building in which I lived had a fire. I was trapped inside of the burning apartment building. I jumped, and was taken by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital with an open fracture of the left ankle, a shattered heel bone, and a broken back. I had three surgeries and months of therapies, all covered by my ACA plan. In October of 2016 I had a 3rd and final surgery on my foot. At this point, I had been out of work for almost a year, and I was covered by a Healthy Michigan plan for the remainder of 2016. I am currently covered under the Medicaid expansion. Without this critical healthcare coverage, I would have been saddled with over $700,000 in medical bills. I would be bankrupt. I might not have my left foot, and I may not have been able to relearn how to walk.

Rachel Charette, Grosse Pointe Farms: Our beautiful baby girl was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 8, 2015. On July 9th, one of the most frightening days of our lives, she had to be transported via ambulance from our hospital to the Children's Hospital NICU to prepare for emergency heart surgery. Three lengthy hospital stays and as many open heart surgeries later, our beautiful baby is a healthy and thriving toddler with a St. Jude mechanical mitral valve. She will need to take coumadin (blood thinner) her whole life, take sildenafil for blood pressure, and avoid contact sports. Her hospital stays and medications totaled well over a million dollars - closer to two. Without Obamacare, our family would be bankrupt, worrying about how to pay for her life saving medications. I cannot express how stressful and gut-wrenching a time this was for my family. I am thankful every day for Obamacare

Kevin Wittenbrodt, Warren: I'm a Marine Corps Veteran and I'm covered by the VA Health System but my wife isn't. She has Kidney Disease and I've found it hard to get coverage for her with the preexisting condition. The VA won't cover her, and Social Security ruled she wasn't disabled, but I found an affordable plan under the ACA. This allows for continued treatment and she's still with me.

Ed Weberman, Farmington Hills: In May 2015, our youngest son Alex, then 22 years old, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. To try to save his life, it was necessary to start aggressive treatment immediately.

Alex had just recently graduated from Eastern Michigan University and had not yet secured a job with health benefits. Fortunately, because of the Affordable Care Act, we were able to maintain Alex on the health plan my wife. If it wasn’t for the ACA, Alex could not have stayed on her policy and he could not have afforded to secure his own health coverage.  After a series of treatments, Alex received his “no evidence of cancer” news in October 2015. Since that time, he has needed regular testing to confirm that the cancer has not come back and he has been hospitalized twice for intestinal bowel blockages related to the impact of the chemotherapy treatments.  To date, his medical costs are approaching $400,000 over the last year and a half…and he is only 24 years old. Up to now, except for approximately $175 of co-pays and the approximately $600 per month that my wife must contribute toward her healthcare insurance, all of these charges have been covered by our health insurance.

Deborah Garrett, Roseville. My story regarding ACA is not uncommon. I am a person in long-term recovery from an addiction, which if ACA is repealed may be a pre-existing condition. I also have a genetic growth disorder, Turner's syndrome. When I applied for insurance through the health insurance exchange, I was in school (I have since graduated with my Bachelors in Science) and was working two part time jobs, neither of which offered benefits. My father had been diagnosed with colon cancer and all of my siblings were advised to get screened. I was able to do that because I had access to health insurance.