July 19, 2017

VIDEO: Udall Releases Video Sharing Stories of New Mexico Families Who Have Benefitted from the Affordable Care Act

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall released a powerful short video telling the personal stories of families in New Mexico whose lives have been saved by the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Medicaid expansion and its historic protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. The release comes as Republicans in Congress and President Trump continue their pledge to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) next week or let it fail in order to force through their plan to slash coverage for 30 million Americans, including 300,000 New Mexicans.

The video features interviews with New Mexicans who contacted Udall to urge him to save the ACA. They are: Pam and her husband Mike, a small business owner in Placitas whose cancer treatment was covered by Obamacare; Daena, whose daughter, Kitt, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 2 1/2 and is currently safe from discrimination under the ACA's protections for people with pre-existing conditions; Elena, who qualified for Medicaid under the ACA expansion as a law student at UNM and was able to afford the procedures she needed when she discovered her very high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer; Jessica and Sam whose 16-month-old son, Rafe, has a type of neurological blindness that requires intensive medical care; and Matthew, a farmer in Albuquerque who learned he qualified for Medicaid after his wife underwent a costly emergency C-section. Udall has talked about each of them on social media and in speeches in the U.S. Senate. In the video, they share their personal stories in their own voices.

"Americans overwhelmingly rejected TrumpCare because they do not want to roll back the historic progress we have made under Obamacare to provide quality, affordable health insurance to hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and millions of Americans. But Republicans are not listening. Instead, Leader McConnell is now pursuing an even more dangerous plan — repealing the Affordable Care Act entirely, with no plan to replace it, and President Trump is saying he wants to 'let Obamacare fail.' These are not options. Repealing Obamacare and ripping away health insurance from millions of Americans, or sabotaging the ACA by undermining the parts that make it work, will hurt people," Udall said.

“300,000 New Mexicans would lose health insurance if the ACA is repealed. That’s not just a statistic – it's people’s lives. I’ve heard from thousands of these New Mexicans, hard-working people who want nothing more than to protect their families. They are mothers of toddlers with life-long illnesses who can sleep at night knowing their families will not go bankrupt to get care, because they can no longer be discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition. They are students who can stay in school when they hear a life-altering diagnosis, because their life-saving care is covered by Medicaid. They are the people driving our economy who are brave enough to take risks and start their own businesses, because they feel secure knowing they will be covered if something unexpected happens. These are the people I'm fighting to protect every day. I implore my colleagues to listen to their stories, and to stop the attack on Obamacare, and start working across party lines to improve the law and protect the gains we have made for their constituents and mine."

Transcript of the video is below [run time, 5.4 minutes]:

Udall [in remarks from a speech on the Senate floor]: Countless people have written me, called my office, and stopped me on the street to tell me how relieved they are to have health care. Others tell me that we can't afford to go back to having insurance companies in charge. We can't go back to caps on coverage, back to allowing corporations to deny care because of a pre-existing condition, and back to lifetime limits. I want to share what just a few of my constituents have told me.

Pam: It was determined that Michael had a form of cancer, an aggressive form of cancer—and of course, that’s frightening.

I remember one of the drugs he had was I think $15,000; it was like a one-time shot.

Daena: She was sick one day and she just never got better. So after a couple weeks we took her to the best pediatrician, we did a simple finger prick and she had high glucose levels.

[Speaking to Kitt, her daughter] Can you show them your Dexcom? Is that your Dexcom? Tell them what this does—does that help keep you safe?

She didn’t ask for this. I didn’t even know what Type 1 diabetes was before. That’s what a pre-existing condition is; it’s not knowing something and then all of a sudden your daughter’s not doing well, and you’re like, what’s happening?

Elena: I found out I have a BRCA 1 mutation, which puts me at a heightened, a very heightened risk for getting breast and ovarian cancer.

I signed up for Medicaid just kind of thinking that I needed health insurance and that I’d probably not really use it.

Sitting around and waiting to get cancer was not something I wanted to do. I didn’t want to be every 6 months having these scares and having to go to the doctor and keep my fingers crossed that I didn’t have cancer—and so I decided to have a prophylactic mastectomy.

Jessica: This is our 16-month-old son Rafe Hibben. He was born with CVI, cortical visual impairment, which is a type of neurologic blindness.

We have two types of health insurance, Tri-care through the military and Medicaid for both my son and I.

Sam: I mean every single day, we feel a little bit threatened that our son’s future is kind of hanging in the balance—

Jessica: —with people on the Hill. And that’s a very scary thought.

I am very concerned that his inability to speak, or eat correctly, or sit up, or walk could be considered pre-existing conditions—and then what will we do if we don’t have access to the therapists that can help him or the equipment that can help him? We’ll just be totally lost.

I won’t allow that to happen, I would have to move out of the state, move out of the country, do whatever I had to do to gain access to the things my son needs—I will do whatever I have to do—but as of right now we don’t have the money and the means to do that. So thank goodness, right now, we are covered. But the future is very uncertain and it’s incredibly scary for our family.

Matthew: My daughter’s birth was a relatively traumatic event. My wife had a placenta previa, which means the placenta was in the way of my daughter coming out. They didn’t know this until my wife started bleeding—and so they had to do an emergency C-section.

And then they sent us home and then the next day we get a bill from the hospital and it was $60,000—$30,000 for the care of my daughter and $30,000 for the C-section—and I was like, where am I gonna come up with that?

And luckily the people from the hospital found us and they said, “Hey, I think you qualify for Medicaid."

Elena: Medicaid has covered all of this—from the visits with my doctors, which I’ve seen them countless times, to when I had this breast cancer scare, the MRI, the mammogram and biopsy—this has all been covered.

Mike: When the Affordable Care Act came along, it was perfect. It was meant to deal with this type of a situation.

Pam: Because of Obamacare, I personally believe my husband’s life was saved, literally.

Daena: I can’t solve her Type 1 diabetes, but I know there are resources there to help me, like the Affordable Care Act, and that’s what’s important.

Elena: Even in the worst moments this year, I have felt so grateful to know that I didn’t have to worry about my health care.

Matthew: It’s like when you have insurance, it’s sort of—it’s like a bedrock underneath you, so that you’re more secure in taking risks, and innovating, and doing all the things that have made our country what it is.