February 09, 2017

On Senate Floor, Kaine Reads Stories From Virginians Impacted By The Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, shared more than twenty stories he’s received from constituents throughout Virginia asking for him to do everything he can to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from repeal. Kaine was speaking in opposition to the nomination of U.S. Representative Tom Price - a proponent of repealing the ACA - to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Over the past month, Kaine received more than 1600 stories through his website about how the ACA has made a positive difference in their lives, and why efforts by Price and other Republicans to repeal the ACA would hurt millions of people who depend on the law for their health care.

“This is not a game. This is not politics. This is not a debate. This is the lives of dozens of Virginians sampled out of 1600 stories that have been sent to me the last three weeks all saying to this body one thing” Kaine said. “Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act. Do not jeopardize the health care of 30 million people. Do not jeopardize the peace of minds of parents going to bed at night and making them wonder what will happen if their child gets sick tomorrow or if they lose their job. We can improve and many of these letters point out things we need to [do to] improve the Affordable Care Act, but we shouldn't even be contemplating a repeal of a law that provides so much good to so many and this is one of the main reasons why when we vote later today, I’m going to be opposing someone who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congressman Tom Price, as he's been nominated for HHS Secretary.”

Below are some of the stories from Virginians Kaine read on the Senate floor:

Justine Jackson – Radford:

“As I type this, I'm currently sitting in the offices of the Community Health Center of the New River Valley. I am twenty five years old and the last doctor I had seen until today was my pediatrician. Like many struggling Americans, I cannot afford insurance and rely on low income/free clinics to receive preventive care. The ACA helped programs like the one at the Community Health Center with funding. We cannot afford to lose clinics like this one with cuts funding public health. Americans should not be denied health care. We should not have to file for bankruptcy for becoming sick or avoiding the doctor all together because it simply costs too much. The Affordable Care Act should be revised, not repealed. If congress repeals the ACA, 20 million Americans risk losing insurance. That's 20 million Americans that may stop going to the doctors because they can't afford it. I plead to Congress to care about your fellow Americans and give us health coverage that is affordable, or better yet, free. Seeing the doctor shouldn't revolve around the choice between going hungry or not.”

Corwin Hammond—Williamsburg:

“Senator Kaine, Before the ACA my wife and I did not have nor could we afford medical insurance. My wife is a business owner and I'm a pastor of a small church in Toano, Virginia. I left my state job that provided full benefits, because the ministry needs in my community were so great. I am grateful for this legislation that allowed us to have peace of mind in knowing that we are covered and able to visit the doctor without going bankrupt. Why not just fix the components that need repairing; instead of throwing millions of hard working Americans to the wolves. We deserve better. How about the Congress and Senate repealing their health care and leaving ours alone? Thank You, Corwin Hammond”

Ann Odenhal – Richmond:

“On New Year’s Eve, 2013, we were informed that our youngest son, Patrick, 18 years old, had Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), an incurable disease that comes with a lifetime of insulin dependence, injecting oneself six to eight times a day. The cause is unknown, it is not a lifestyle disease and there is no escaping it once diagnosed. The beta cells on our son's pancreas just stopped working. T1D is extremely dangerous and when not managed can cause blindness, kidney failure, limb loss, other issues and eve death. We were knocked off our feet, numb, confused and overwhelmed by the danger and the medical requirements to stay within an acceptable insulin range. People with the disease must balance insulin doses with eating and other activities throughout the day and night. They must also measure their blood-glucose level by pricking their fingers for blood six or more times a day. Our son still can have dangerous high or low blood-glucose levels, both of which are life threatening. He will die without insulin; he could die from too much insulin. In the midst of our fog and sadness, we remembered the ACA. ‘At least the ACA will be there when Patrick is on his own. He will be able to get health insurance regardless of his prior condition,’ was our mantra. One day, Patrick came home and announced, ‘Great news! The ACA allows me to stay on your health insurance until I'm 26!’

“I changed my retirement schedule; I can do that. I have watched and worried as insulin prices soar. Pat takes two types of insulin, a single carton of which costs between $400 and $500 retail. I run the math in my head and I worry more about lack of insurance. We are covered by my employer's insurance, which pays for most of the drugs, equipment and the health care he needs, but what would happen if we found ourselves without insurance? What if I lost my job? Public service runs deep in our family, my husband is a retired teacher. Our older son is a policeman. It appears Pat may be moving toward non-profit or public service work as well. Will he have health insurance? Will he have it without the ACA? I can promise anyone reading this that you know someone whose life will be positively impacted by the ACA. There are 20 million people like our son, Patrick. Don't allow a repeal of the ACA. Fix the problems, work the issues, but don't play politics with our son's life.”

Linda Crist – Lynchburg:

“I had employer provided health care for 38 years. In 2013 I lost my eyesight to macular degeneration and could no longer work. An insurance company covered me for $695 a month with the lost income, I could no longer afford insurance. I contacted them and was told there was a new plan I could apply for. I applied and was turned down due to a "pre-existing condition". You see, in 1984, decades before I was diagnosed with kidney disease. I was treated and according to my physician, cured, but the insurance company didn't care. I applied for insurance under the ACA and got a silver plan that cost me $345 a month. I was given a tax credit. The ACA saved me when I was waiting for Medicare to kick in after receiving Disability. I am sure that my premium would have gone up with the ACA but it saved me when I needed it.”

Shannon Linford – Leesburg:

“My name is Shannon Linford, I'm 24, and from the age of 10, my life has been a series of doctors office visits. I suffer from over a half dozen chronic illnesses, physical and mental, and require frequent checkups and take up to 15 prescriptions a day. I have spent the last 14 years balancing illness with my attempts to build a life. That would not have been possible were it not for the provisions in the ACA that prevent insurance companies from denying me service for my illnesses or allowing me to stay on my parents' insurance until I'm 26. I've had to take a detour from pursuing higher education due to my illnesses, as well as getting a job, and instead spend the days I'm well enough volunteering with non-profits that advocate for others with illnesses like mine. My team of doctors and I work together personally to create a plan that is best for me. We are exemplifying health care at its best. They know me by name, they know each other by name--across disciplines, they work and collaborate together. I would not have this luxury were it not for the ACA. Insurance companies would deny me coverage due to my pre-existing conditions, my family and I would go into bankruptcy trying to give me basic care. My health is finally under good management. I'm going into remission with my depression thanks to new experimental treatments from my psychiatrist. Things are looking up, thanks to the provisions in this remarkable act of legislation. Revoking this law would be criminal and would destroy lives, destroy futures. Thank you so much for your hard work.”

Anna M. – Vienna:

“Without the ACA, I would likely be dead. I live with bipolar disorder, an incurable mental illness that causes my moods to swing uncontrollably from intense anxiety to crushing depression. I began seeking help five years ago and once spent two weeks in an intensive outpatient hospital program because I was suicidal. I got help, but later lost my job and my insurance, making my disorder a pre-existing condition. Thankfully, the ACA prevents my new insurance from refusing coverage, and I was able to continue treatment. I will need to control my bipolar disorder with medications and therapy for the rest of my life. Without treatment, I am at a higher risk for long term unemployment, becoming homeless, incarceration, and dying by suicide. With treatment, I work full time, pay my taxes, volunteer for local charities, and am a loving daughter, sister, and friend.”

Cynthia Elliott – Hillsboro:

“Gov. Kaine, Without the ACA, I and many of other younger seniors whose jobs do not provide health care would simply be without until Medicare kicks in. I was paying $1,000 a month for HMO care. Until I couldn't. With ACA, I was able to get coverage for a reasonable $300 a month and this one includes dental care! It is a life saver for me.”

Kaine has been a strong advocate in the Senate for protecting the ACA from repeal. He introduced the lead amendment to stop Republican efforts to undo the law, as well as led a group of moderate Senate Democrats on a letter asking Republican Senate leadership to abandon their rush to repeal and instead pursue bipartisan talks to make meaningful improvements to the existing law.