Democrats hold public forum on Affordable Care Act, with women whose lives were changed by it


Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with eleven of her Democratic Senate colleagues, hosted a public forum Thursday to promote the stories of women whose lives have been changed by the Affordable Care Act, and to resist the promised GOP repeal.

With the GOP moving forward on their disastrous repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Senate Democrats are highlighting the stories and voices of Americans whose lives have been improved, or even saved, by the law.

In a public forum held Thursday, five women told their stories, which had originally been submitted for testimony against Representative Tom Price (R-GA), Trump's nominee for Health and Human Services.

But their testimony was rejected, despite the requests of twenty-four senators. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) stated:

I’m sorry that the Republicans decided the stories we heard today weren’t important enough to include in the hearings, but I know the people we heard from speak for millions of other Americans who are worried about Congressman Price’s support for defunding Planned Parenthood, ripping up the Affordable Care Act, privatizing Medicare, and cutting Medicaid.

The forum was moderated by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in conjunction with Warren, as well as Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Patty Murray (D-WA). They were later joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

The panel of constituents each told their stories of how Obamacare had made their medication affordable, had made it possible to seek needed health care, or had saved the life of someone close to them.

Ann Serafin, a teacher from Michigan who had to go on disability due to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, noted that, because of Medicare, she and her husband have been able to live without having to "choose between eating and taking ... medication."

Alyce Ornella, from Maine, spoke meaningfully about the ACA covering her prenatal care and the cost of taking care of her child, Sam, when he was born with multiple congenital birth defects and required surgery when he was just two days old. Obamacare has ensured that Sam's care is covered, and that his parents do not have to worry about costs or that he will ever be denied care for preexisting conditions or encounter lifetime caps.

Kanisha Hans of Boston praised the ACA's allowance for young adults to stay on their parents insurance until they are 26. Diane Fleming, a 75-year-old from Washington, DC, has thyroid cancer and managed to get her expensive treatments covered by Medicare.

The last speaker was Holly Jensen, a 32-year-old woman from Cleveland, OH. Jensen owns a small business, and before the ACA, had not been able to get insurance. She experiences severe depression and obsessive compulsive disorder — and these disorders were destroying her life and her ability to perform her job. With Obamacare, and with the additional assurance of mental health care parity, she was able to get the treatment she needed to get her life back in order and run her business successfully.

Each of these women have one thing in common: Their lives were greatly and immensely changed for the better by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the strengthening of Medicare and Medicaid. These fives lives would be drastically different were it not for the Obama administration's dedication to health care reform.

And, as this forum highlights, these stories are why Democrats are pushing so hard to prevent a repeal. It is these average people who would be affected by the law's weakening or outright elimination, who are staring down the barrel of rising health care costs, loss of benefits, and ongoing chronic pain if they lose their coverage. As Senator Murray said of the future HHS Head: "This is a Cabinet Secretary who will oversee the lives of literally every family in this country, so we have a responsibility to hear from those families in this country."

If only the GOP would listen.