COLUMBUS – Since congressional Republicans are shunning town halls and other face-to-face meetings while home this week, health care advocates today sent them videos of constituents explaining why they support the Affordable Care Act.
For the past seven years, Republicans vowed to repeal the ACA, commonly known as Obamacare. With the GOP in firm control of Washington, voters have deluged ACA opponents with demands for meetings, hoping to get input into the long-promised repeal-and-replace plan.
The video includes Mitch Lerner of Granville, the father of three children with juvenile diabetes who now have health insurance, courtesy of the ACA.
Lerner uses the video to speak directly to Congress: “These are small children whose lives could be devastated by the decision you’re about to make…. To steal someone’s health care who faces these dreadful health problems is so unbelievably devastating that I don’t know how you could ever look yourself in the eye again.’’
Substitute teacher Laura Dachenback of Gahanna credits the insurance she obtained under the ACA with allowing her to hear.
“There would have been a number of jobs that would not have been available to me had I not been able to correct my hearing surgically,’’ she says in the video. “Health care is literally freedom.’’
UHCAN Ohio Executive Director Steve Wagner said his organization teamed up with ProgressOhio to make the video after Sen. Portman declined repeated requests for a town hall meeting.
“Emails and letters can’t fully capture the impact the ACA has had on Ohio families,’’ Wagner said. “The people most responsible for crafting a replacement must hear from the people most affected by its repeal.’’
Health care providers took part in the video too.
Internal medicine expert Dr. Fatima Fadalla of Cleveland said the uncertainty over the fate of the ACA is of concern to doctors – not just patients.
“If I had one message to give to Sen. Portman it would essentially be to hold off on repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate replacement that would allow me to do my job as a physician,’’ she said.
Since the ACA was signed into law, an estimated 20 million Americans – including nearly 1 million Ohioans – gained health insurance.
Although it is popular with many voters, some complain of rising premiums and dwindling choices of insurance carries.
John Lockwood, a Health System Strategist from Columbus, addresses the cost issues and explains how the ACA helps keep insurance premiums down.
“Not a lot of primary care physicians are going to be seeing patients who don’t have health care,’’ Lockwood explains. “Having a primary care physician is the single determinant in the cost of care.’’
Instead of public meetings, Portman and some of his colleagues have been holding tele-town halls which allow them talk only by phone and screen callers, rather that risk angry confrontations that have dominated some face-to-face meetings.
Across Ohio, voters planned town halls – even if their members of Congress don’t attend.