By Randall Beach, New Haven Register
MIDDLETOWN >> Medical professionals joined Connecticut political leaders Saturday to tell how small business owners, the self-employed, farmers, the poor and the elderly will be harmed — and in some cases could die —- if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
Those who gathered at the Community Health Center warned that the move this past week by the Republican-controlled Congress to repeal the law without having a replacement poses a dangerous threat to millions of Americans.
“We have heard the Republicans talk about repeal but they have been tellingly silent on their so-called ‘better’ replacement,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3 of New Haven.
“This will cause chaos and cost lives,” DeLauro added.
She noted more than 20 million people now have insurance because of the ACA. Its repeal, she said, “will have a chilling effect in our state; 180,000 people in Connecticut who have gained coverage since the ACA was implemented could lose their coverage if the ACA is entirely or partially repealed.”
DeLauro also noted: “And 210,000 individuals in Connecticut who are enrolled in Medicaid under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion stand to lose coverage.”
In addition, DeLauro said more than 1.8 million Connecticut residents would lose their access to co-pay-free preventative care. Moreover, seniors would have to pay more for prescription drugs.
DeLauro noted that her friend Mary Ann Wasil, “one of my personal heroes,” defended the ACA until the end of her life, when she succumbed to breast cancer. “She knew first-hand the impact this law has on people’s lives in their darkest times.”
DeLauro said she will continue to fight for the ACA on behalf of people like Wasil.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2, said he finds it “extraordinary” seeing the contrast between what Republicans are saying in Congress and the messages he is receiving in his office from constituents who say they have benefitted from tha ACA.
“A farmer in Ellington, who is 63, said if he loses his coverage, he’ll be forced to sell his livestock or land to keep the coverage his wife and he need,” Courtney said.
Courtney also recounted the owner of a frame shop approaching him Saturday morning in his store and saying: “I didn’t have health insurance until two years ago” when the ACA made it possible for him to get coverage.
Courtney added, “The repeal will help people who are not in desperate straits. The people who will pay are those calling our offices.”
A registered nurse who has seen this desperation up close, Michelle Hurteau of Killingworth, said some of the people she attends to are already telling her: “Michelle, I can’t afford my medication. I have to choose between that and heat or food.”
Hurteau said before the ACA was enacted, she was turned down by every insurance company she applied to for medical insurance because she had a pre-existing condition.
“When I was able to use the ACA, it brought me the greatest peace of mind. It saved me from bankruptcy, losing my home and untold anxiety. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”