The thought of her son losing a guarantee of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act caused Christine Callahan to begin sobbing, choking out the words in bursts.
Andrew sat next to his mother in his wheelchair from their Hudson, Ohio, home as she addressed a pair of U.S. senators and several reporters online Thursday about upcoming arguments over the fate of Obamacare before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Andrew, who turns 13 in a week, has a nervous-system genetic disorder that has left him epileptic. He is non-verbal and requires a feeding tube. His insurance company is billed $6,940 a month for his medications and feeding supplies alone.
If the U.S. Supreme Court, with the addition of conservative justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett, overturns the Affordable Care Act following arguments Nov. 10, Callahan said loss of the pre-existing coverage mandate and no caps on lifetime expenses would devastate her Summit County family. It operates Callahan’s, a Hudson flooring store.
“Andrew would be uninsurable. This would put us in the position of not being able to afford the necessary care,” she said. The loss of the ACA would force “life-and-death choices between his care and our family’s financial survival. No family should have to make that choice.”
Democrat U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin were joined online by Buckeyes and Badgers who said their health-care coverage is at stake in the Obamacare case.
The senators object to majority Republicans confirming President Donald Trump’s court nominee without awaiting results of the presidential election and allowing the winner to make the call. Brown said Barrett would be a “corporate justice, a judge we have every reason to believe will take away Americans’ health care in the middle of a pandemic.”
Brown said 5 million Ohioans suffered from pre-existing conditions prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said overturning of the Affordable Care Act under the challenge filed by the Trump administration would cancel expanded Medicaid coverage for 600,000 low-income Ohioans.
“We could go back to the day when insurance agents were free to charge you rates you could never afford or deny you coverage altogether,” Brown said.
Trump says he will ensure pre-existing conditions continue to be covered by health insurers, but has not provided details. Neither did Vice President Mike Pence when pressed for an answer during his Wednesday evening debate with Sen. Kamala Harris of California, running mate to Democrat Joe Biden.
Colleen Bowman of Waynesville, Ohio, worries about coverage for her 16-year-old daughter, who contracted skin cancer at age 7. “This is going to destroy the lives of millions of Americans, my daughter included.
“There will be no other way to protect her. We’re fighting for things that shouldn’t be a fight.”
Dena Doolin of Fairborn, Ohio, lost her coverage once, when her insurer canceled her policy 15 years ago prior to the Affordable Care Act as she underwent treatment prior to her first surgery for lung cancer. A non-smoker, she since has undergone another surgery and, recently, radiation treatments at The James Cancer Hospital in Columbus.
“We are so thankful for the ACA,” said Doolin, whose husband also had surgery a year ago for lung cancer.