N.J. residents with pre-existing conditions make plea to delay Amy Coney Barrett confirmation

Laveta Brigham

Nine New Jersey residents joined the state’s two U.S. senators Thursday in a last-minute plea to delay the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. The focus of the Zoom press conference with U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker was the concern that Barrett, who […]

Nine New Jersey residents joined the state’s two U.S. senators Thursday in a last-minute plea to delay the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The focus of the Zoom press conference with U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker was the concern that Barrett, who previously expressed her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, would provide the fifth vote to overturn the law.

President Donald Trump, who nominated her, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to kill the ACA, which could leave millions of Americans, including almost 600,000 in New Jersey, without health insurance, and removing protections for pre-existing conditions.

“Dissolving the ACA would cost me my life,” said Daria Caldwell, 62, of Flemington, who gets her insurance and coverage for the drug she needs to treat her multiple myeloma. “That sounds dramatic but it is the constant threat of will I or won’t I have insurance is beyond anything I thought I would have to endure as an American citizen.”

Stephanie Vigario, 31, of Newark, who was on a ventilator for more than a month after being infected with the coronavirus, said she worried about affording insurance because she now had a pre-existing condition. Gloria Nieves, 49, of Newark, said she was concerned that she couldn’t afford to pay for the inhaler she always carries with her due to asthma.

The residents told their stories shortly after the Senate Judiciary Committee, which, despite its rule rule requiring at least two members of the minority party be present, approved Barrett’s nomination after Booker and all of the panel’s other Democrats boycotted the meeting.

Booker said was still important to tell the stories of Americans who would be hurt if the ACA was overturned, even if it doesn’t change the minds of Senate Republicans.

“When injustice is bearing down, you cannot be silent,” he said. “That is complicity.”

It also may motivate voters to go to the polls, he said.

“We want to call a this out as a rallying cry that mobilizes more people,” he said. “We want to make sure that people are motivated to vote for their health care.”

Menendez said the Senate Democrats would use every procedural motion they could to delay Barrett’s confirmation after Republicans said President Barack Obama’s election-year nomination of Judge Merrick Garland had to wait until after Americans went to the polls.

“You’re going to see a lot of members going to the floor to try to stop this from happening,” he said. “We will not sit silent.”

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at [email protected].

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