By Beth Sufian, JD
Vote like your life depends on it Tuesday because if you have cystic fibrosis it does!
I did not think I needed to write an article about how important voting on November 6th is to people with CF, but last week I realized I was wrong. I had discussions with some people with CF who did not understand the importance of the election to the CF community. I started to explain that if there are no changes in who is serving in Congress, the Affordable Care Act will be repealed in 2019.
We saw how close Congress came to repealing the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) last year. Senator John McCain was our hero when he voted against the repeal of the ACA. Senator McCain lost his own battle with cancer this year and he will not be able to save us again. To be safe we need 3-4 new Senators and 23-26 new members of the House who will protect the ACA.
Everyone with CF and everyone who loves a person with CF should be spending the next two days getting out the vote for candidates who will protect our ability to access the care and the medication we need to fight CF.
If the Affordable Care Act is repealed it will become impossible for large numbers of people with CF to access the health insurance policies or government programs we need to pay for our care and the expensive medications that are improving the lives of children and adults with CF. Last week we heard from the Republican majority leader Senator Mitch McConnell who said that in 2019 he pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to both reduce the number of people who are eligible, and to restrict coverage under Medicaid and Medicare.
Many in the CF community mistakenly believe that the ACA does not apply to them because they have a private health insurance policy. The protections of the ACA apply to all private insurance policies. Here are just some protections the ACA provides to people with CF.
- The right to keep a parent’s health insurance coverage until a young adult turns 26.
- No lifetime caps on coverage.
- A maximum out of pocket amount.
- No pre-existing condition exclusions.
- 45 services that must be covered.
- The option for a state to expand Medicaid to low-income adults.
Without the ACA all of these provisions and many more protections go away.
Recent data show that at any given time at least 50 percent of children and adults with CF are enrolled in Medicaid. Even if you have private health insurance, the loss of Medicaid by people with CF will still affect you. If 50 percent of our population does not have coverage for medication or treatment it will be impossible for companies and health care providers to deliver medications and treatment to the rest of us. There will not be enough people who will be able to pay for care and medication. All people with CF will be negatively affected if the ACA is repealed.
If you have made other plans on November 6th I urge you to reschedule. There is no other event that should take precedence over the fate of health care for those with CF. We should all be coming together to make sure when we wake up on November 7th we know we did everything we could to protect the rights of people CF.
We ALL need to be getting out the vote on Tuesday. What does that mean? We need to be reaching out to friends and family members and explain why this election is so important to the CF community.
We need to reach out to campaigns who need our help block walking, phone banking and texting to get voters to the polls. We need to make sure everyone we know has a way to get to the polls. Many important races will be won by only a few votes. Every hour you spend getting out the vote now counts, there is no going back after the election is over.
This is the most important election of our lifetime.
Please join me in assuring that we have done everything we can for everyone in the CF community to continue to have the legal right to access insurance coverage. So many worked so hard to develop the excellent CF Care Center system. So many have spent their lives researching and discovering medications to help ease the burden CF places on us. Let us honor the memories of those who have lost their battle with CF by making sure we explain to friends and relatives why their vote on Tuesday is so important.
On Tuesday, I will be available all day to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid or Medicare coverage or to connect people to the information they may need to vote. Please call me at 1-800-622-0385 if I can help. I am acting as a private citizen on Tuesday and not as a member of any organization. I hope my next post will be of me dancing in the street late Tuesday night celebrating all of our efforts to make sure that everyone with CF has a bright future.