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Letter: Our health is in an uneasy limbo with ‘repeal and replace’

In 2011, I had a health-related emergency. Smack dab in the middle of pursuing a master’s degree, the pressure of full-time graduate student status, internships, and laying the groundwork for future job prospects (during the recession) didn’t interact well with my body’s still-processing response to a sexual assault I had experienced a couple of years prior. Balancing my personal ambitions, school work, and regular meetings with my lawyers was not an easy task, and over time, it took a toll on my mental and physical health.

I share my story not for sympathy; I know how to take care of myself. I share because it’s important to illustrate how a key aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) helped me access healing. Quite simply, the ACA enabled me to stay on my parents’ insurance when I otherwise would have been without, and thus, I was able to access the services I was in desperate need of without tapping into a non-existent savings or checking account to cover the outrageous medical costs. This specific provision of the ACA went into effect just under 16 months prior to when I needed it. For that, I am truly grateful to the U.S. Congress and President Obama.

The republican party now controls the U.S. Congress and is already actively working to repeal the ACA in entirety. “Repeal and replace” is their plan, but it is highly irresponsible to repeal this law without actually providing a plan to replace it.

A debate over the law’s effectiveness and ability to improve health care services and costs in America is fine with me. But I personally know dozens of other people who experienced similar mental health-related emergencies and other health challenges during their schooling and benefited from continuous health insurance coverage that was guaranteed through the age of 26.

I encourage you to learn about how the ACA affected your family members and community and call to share that information with your elected representatives, including newly elected Rep. Jason Lewis. Make sure they seriously consider the grave implications of slashing health coverage for 20 million people. We cannot afford to send all these people back to emergency rooms because they don’t know where else to go or leave them without care.

Please voice your support for this critical legislation.