New website to feature nine stories for each Supreme Court justice who will rule on the Affordable Care Act.
Washington, D.C. — Personal stories from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas kick off a month-long campaign by the Center for American Progress to highlight the very real impacts of the King v. Burwell lawsuit, the latest attempt by conservatives to use the Supreme Court against the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. The consequences of a ruling against the ACA could have devastating effects for people such as Jennifer Causor of Tennessee, whose treatment for cystic fibrosis would be prohibitively expensive without insurance. Causor is one of the first three stories of nine that will appear at HearTheNine.org.
Causor, as well as Aurora Harris of Texas and Joe Lucas of Pennsylvania, has benefitted greatly from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which not only blocks insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions, but also provides tax credits for low-income Americans to afford coverage. Those tax credits saved Harris more than $1,500 last year, making her coverage affordable. It is these tax credits that are at the heart of the King v. Burwell suit, meaning a ruling against the ACA would directly affect millions of Americans and severely damage the insurance market.
Today’s stories feature:
- Aurora Harris, Houston, Texas: Aurora works for a small nonprofit in Texas and has saved more than $1,500 thanks to a tax credit she receives through the ACA.
“My coverage through the Affordable Care Act gave me access to vital services, particularly certain preventive services. Through my experience and the experiences of the people I’ve worked with, I’ve come to realize that having health insurance does more than cover you if you get sick—it provides access to services that will stop you from getting sick in the first place.”
- Jennifer Causor, Nashville, Tennessee: Jennifer grew up with cystic fibrosis and has medical bills that reach into the thousands every month. Thanks to the ACA she now has an affordable plan that could be the difference between life and death.
“I can’t survive if I can’t afford my treatment. Since I am unable to work, it had been nearly impossible for to find affordable coverage with a pre-existing condition. The health insurance I purchased through the Affordable Care Act covers the treatment that keeps me alive.”
- Joe Lucas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Joe saw his health insurance costs skyrocket before eventually making the painful decision to drop his coverage. Ensuing health issues sent his costs soaring again before the ACA helped him find an affordable plan, and he re-enrolled this year.
“The marketplace and the tax credits have helped me find a plan that works and is affordable for me. I have a zero deductible with low copays for office visits, which provides tremendous peace of mind knowing that a major medical event will not cause me financial distress.”
“These stories are just a few of millions from across the country about people whose lives are better today because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress. “Two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled favorably on hypothetical outcomes of the Affordable Care Act, but the actions of these justices will have immediate consequences for real people this year. The ACA is working, which why millions of Americans would be affected by a ruling against it and why so many have spoken against this political lawsuit.”
Unlike two years ago, when the Supreme Court ruled before the marketplaces were in effect, the Court’s decision on King v. Burwell will have immediate real-world consequences. More than 9 million people have already signed up or re-enrolled during the current open enrollment period, and millions more have benefitted from Medicaid expansion in their states. Through King v. Burwell, conservative opposition to the Affordable Care Act is attempting to undermine the law through a key clause that clearly states that tax credits for insurance will be available across all 50 states for low-income Americans. For the next month, CAP will be highlighting more personal stories, videos, and facts about the case at HearTheNine.org, culminating in a major event outside the Supreme Court on the day of the oral arguments—March 4.
- In just one year, the ACA has reduced the number of uninsured Americans by about 10 million, while millions have signed up for coverage through the marketplace.
- Last year, nearly 7 in 10 people who enrolled in the marketplaces selected a plan that cost $100 or less per month, after factoring in tax credits.
- Americans are getting better coverage than before with access to preventive services such as vaccines, cancer screenings, and yearly wellness visits with no out-of-pocket costs. And, as many stories have shown, insurance companies are no longer allowed to deny or drop anyone from coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Aurora Harris, Houston, Texas
Aurora got her health insurance coverage through Texas’ federal marketplace. Aurora, age 26, works at a small nonprofit where she helps her LGBT peers find the coverage they need. An active member of her community, Aurora speaks at events about the no-cost preventive services, such as well-person exams and mammograms, that are part of the essential health benefits in all health plans in the marketplace. When she signed up, Aurora not only found a great plan, but also was able to receive financial assistance to pay for her coverage—saving more than $1,500 last year. “I wouldn’t be able to afford my policy otherwise,” said Aurora. “It has really helped me be able to get my well-person exam and other prevention screenings that I’d not had in years.” Together with her girlfriend, who also benefits from the Affordable Care Act, they are taking a stand for equality and getting the affordable coverage they need. As Aurora put it, “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we can breathe easier, knowing we both have health insurance that we can afford. I want everyone—especially my LGBT family—to know that they can get covered too.”
Jennifer Causor, Nashville, Tennessee
Jennifer grew up living with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that caused her lungs to fill with fluid and still interferes with her digestive system. In August 2013, after decades of life-threatening illness and the collapse of her lungs, Jenn received two new, cystic-fibrosis-free lungs. Although her life is much improved since her transplant, Jenn is unable to return to work—her transplant makes it difficult to keep a normal schedule and returning to work also increases the already high risk of infection. She enrolled in the Affordable Care Act in 2014 through the exchange the day after her COBRA plan, which allowed her to stay on her previous employer’s health plan, ran out. The cost of Jenn’s treatment without insurance is staggering. Her transplant alone cost $279,379, according to a statement of benefits she received from her insurance company. Jenn is currently taking three anti-rejection drugs, one of which has a sticker price of nearly $2,400 per month. That does not include the cost of her other anti-rejection drugs, her anti-fungal drugs, or the drugs she takes to mitigate the infection she caught from her lung donor. “My anti-rejection meds, I have to be on them. Like, I have to. If I went off of them, I would go into rejection and I would eventually die,” Jenn says. On January 1, 2014, Jennifer Causor woke for the first time knowing that no matter what direction her health turned, she would at least live without fear that she would not be able to afford treatment.
Joe Lucas, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Joe is a self-employed painter from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who has not had health insurance for most of his life. In 2000, he was able to get health insurance through an employer, but after five years, his premium rate was out of control—amounting to nearly one-quarter of his income—forcing him to make the difficult decision to become uninsured again. Three years later, Joe suffered an aortic aneurism. After 11 days in the hospital, he went home with a $69,000 medical bill and the headache of finding a health care plan with a pre-existing condition. When he tried to find coverage, he was quoted monthly premiums of almost $1,000, or in most cases, he was denied coverage completely. But with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Joe was able to purchase transitional insurance under Pennsylvania’s pre-existing condition program until the marketplace officially opened. As soon as the marketplace opened, Joe was able to shop around for other coverage options with lower deductibles and copays. He had the choice of 35 different plans and received a monthly $233 subsidy. With his subsidy, Joe paid only $150 per month last year for his silver plan. With coverage under the Affordable Care Act, Joe does not have to worry about getting the annual checkup he needs for his doctor to monitor his heart condition. In addition, his blood pressure medicine and annual CT scan, which can cost $11,000 without insurance, are now much more affordable. Joe said that without the subsidy he receives under the Affordable Care Act, he would be unable to afford health coverage without working significantly more hours. “The subsidies are important to me because not only do they help lower premiums, they also lower deductibles and copays, which also lower out-of-pocket expenses,” said Joe. “I have a zero deductible with low copays for office visits, which provides tremendous peace of mind knowing that a major medical event will not cause me financial distress.” He recently re-enrolled this year after finding an affordable plan for his lifestyle and discovered he would save over $2,600 on his prescriptions annually.
For more information, contact Benton Strong at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.8142