Losing access to healthcare

On Monday, Bobbi from Buckhannon wrote to me to share her family’s reality. Last year, Bobbi’s life was changed forever when her teenage daughter was diagnosed with a rare condition called dystonia. With proper healthcare this young woman still has a bright future ahead of her. She’ll go to college, land a great job and become an active member of our West Virginia community. But that healthcare includes injections every three months to help her walk properly and costly prescriptions to help control abnormal body movements.

A lawsuit being led by 20 U.S. Attorneys General, including the Attorney General of West Virginia, is seeking to no longer require insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions. That means those like Bobbi’s teenage daughter will no longer have access to quality and affordable healthcare. Bobbi worries her daughter would have to depend on her parents and not be able to achieve the things she knows she is capable of.

Bobbi’s daughter isn’t the only West Virginian who would be impacted by this lawsuit. 800,000 West Virginians have a health condition that qualifies as a pre-existing condition. Insurance companies qualify everything from acne and heart disease to diabetes and hemophilia as a pre-existing condition. They even consider pregnancy to be a pre-existing condition.

When people ask me why I voted against repealing the healthcare law, this is why. We need to make sure those with pre-existing conditions do not go bankrupt paying for basic healthcare. What’s happening today is an unfortunate political move. The only reason this lawsuit is moving forward is because they have failed to repeal the law. But not because they haven’t tried. Congressional Republicans have voted more than 50 times to repeal basic consumer protections like this.

What makes this worse is the Senate has two bipartisan compromises, one led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) and another led by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), I have co-sponsored both of these bills that will help reduce healthcare costs for West Virginia families. This agreement shows what is possible when we put people before politics and work together for the good of the American people, but Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan will not let us even vote on these solutions. Shame on us.

I have always said that our nation’s current healthcare system is in need of repair. But every West Virginia deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare. I refuse to stand by while some try to move our country backwards instead of forward. We cannot go back to a time where insurance companies were able to play God by picking and choosing who they would insure.

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