Affordable Care Act: Look beyond the numbers – focus on names
MARGIE FORREST AND BONNIE CHAPPELL
The ink on the Supreme Court decision affirming the Affordable Care Act isn’t yet dry, but Republican leaders are trying to scrap the law.
We write this as a lifelong Democrat and Republican. We are nurses first, and we know that good health care isn’t about politics and profits. The partisan bickering that pollutes our political system has no place in our hospitals and clinics.
Our patients simply cannot afford any more delays when it comes to affordable care and protections from the worst of insurance company abuses.
Partisan ideologues leading the charge to repeal the law rarely utter a word about quality patient care or protections for middle-class families provided by this law. The patients we see at Valley Hospital Rockwood Health Systems in Spokane Valley, Wash., and Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, Fla., struggle to afford gas to get work, fight to pay the next electric bill and worry about whether their job is secure. Without insurance, a health care crisis could bankrupt them. They need health coverage, not the same old tired political fight.
What health care law opponents fail to address in their heated rhetoric is how we care for the 129 million Americans who have been routinely denied care by the health insurance industry due to a pre-existing condition. Nor do we hear how we would cover the more than 32 million Americans who are working but simply cannot afford the skyrocketing costs of health care coverage.
The plight of these hard-working Americans is all too often glossed over or dismissed. If we are going to move forward together and create a healthier country, we need to make sure Americans maintain the protections they have under this law.
Already, 86 million Americans have benefited from preventive services such as mammograms for women or wellness visits for seniors; 17 million children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage; 12.8 million Americans will get some of their hard-earned dollars back because their insurance company spent too much on administrative costs or CEO bonuses; 6.6 million young adults have the security of coverage until age 26; 5.3 million Americans on Medicare have saved an average of $600 on their prescription drugs; and 70,000 Americans with pre-existing conditions including diabetes, cancer or heart disease now have the security of coverage.
But beyond the numbers, as nurses, we know names. Laurie graduated from college in 2011 and is a wildlife researcher with seasonal employment. Like many young adults, she works in a position that does not offer health care benefits. Laurie hurt her back when she was out running and went to see a doctor and a chiropractor. She is under 26 years old, and because of the health care law she was able to be covered under her father’s insurance and is now pain-free.
Amy is a 23-year-old woman who came to the emergency room in March with her mother. She was having a gallbladder attack and did not have insurance. Neither she nor her mother, a U.S. Postal Service worker, realized that Amy could be on her mother’s insurance plan until their nurse shared that information. This made such a difference to them in their ability to afford the follow-up care.
Dezeray was just 6 years old when she was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia in 2002. She spent six months in the hospital and made a full recovery. When Dezeray’s father lost his job, the family was very worried about getting insurance that would cover Dezeray.
But because of the new health care law, she was fully covered when they got their new plan. And Dezeray cannot be denied health insurance as an adult because of her previous medical condition.
Since Sept. 23, 2010, children living with pre-existing health conditions can no longer be denied benefits or coverage by insurance companies, or even be limited in their treatment for a pre-existing condition.
These are real people whose lives are changed by the health care law. They, like millions of other Americans, need this law because it provides access to critical care that will help them lead healthier, more productive lives.
For those who continue to play politics with health of Americans or seek to take away the benefits of the law, we ask them to think about the care we seek to deliver every day and the communities that this law will help.
Margie Forrest is a registered nurse and a Democrat from Florida. Bonnie Chappell is a registered nurse and a Republican from Washington. They are both members of the Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare. This article was written for McClatchy-Tribune.