Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

Representing the 1st District of Maine

VIDEO: Urging House Republicans to Hear Stories of Mainers Helped by ACA

Mar 7, 2017
Press Release

A few hours after House Republicans revealed their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Pingree spoke on the House floor and urged her Republican colleagues not to forget the millions of Americans for whom the Affordable Care Act has been a lifesaver. Pingree read stories of real Mainers who’ve benefitted from the Affordable Care Act. 

Transcript of her remarks

M. Speaker,
The Affordable Care Act has saved thousands of Mainers from losing their lives or going bankrupt simply because they got sick. Quality of care has improved through preventive care – without cost sharing for consumers.  And overall costs have been lowered.
Republicans have had seven years to come up with an alternative health care plan that preserves the progress we've made under the ACA 
One that would not take us back to a time when many without employer-sponsored insurance or a clean bill of health could get coverage.
But after all of this time, they’ve come up with a plan that will cost older Americans up to five times more than younger enrollees, charge the uninsured 30% more to buy coverage, defund Planned Parenthood, cut Medicaid significantly, and still has no price tag.
We owe it to Americans to have an open debate on this proposal, and I expect my Republican colleagues not to forget the millions of Americans for whom the Affordable Care Act has been a lifesaver.
In January, I asked my constituents to share their ACA stories, and within a few days more than 1,000 were submitted.
Some shared ongoing challenges. And I agree – there are opportunities to strengthen the ACA and make it more affordable. But the overwhelming number of people shared compelling stories of how the ACA has improved their lives.
I am honored to share some of these powerful stories today.
I hope my Republican colleagues are listening.
Eleanor from Belfast said:
"I am a 63 year old small business owner who has health insurance for the first time in my adult life since passage of the ACA. The same is true for my partner of 17 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and has recently undergone a mastectomy with follow-up care. After her diagnosis, I went for my first-ever mammogram." 
The Republican plan puts the preventive services that helped Eleanor at risk.
Matthew from Brunswick said:
"Five years ago I left a comfortable job with good benefits to start my own business.  Those first years were tough on my family. My wife and I were able to put our children on Maine's Dirigo Health, but we had to do without... 

“Today, through God's grace, hard work, and the support of my wife; my business is prospering. Food assistance is a thing of the past and we're actually contributing more in taxes now than we ever did before. We still have to watch what we spend but we're breathing a lot easier. Each year that I've made more money our subsidy has gone down, and that's just as it should be. That subsidy still matters though. If the ACA were eliminated today and I had to buy health insurance on the open market I'd be paying an extra $4,800 a year. That's real money." 
Under the Republican Plan, small business owners like Matthew may not be able to afford care for their family.
Ret, a 9/11 First Responder from Rockland said:
"...The ACA means that as a self-employed resident of the state of Maine, I can actually acquire coverage with a pre-existing condition. After working search & rescue/recovery at Ground Zero in 2001, I developed a lung condition necessitating costly medication. Before the ACA, I was terrified of losing my job and losing health care because of my pre-existing condition."
Under the Republican Plan, those with pre-existing conditions, like our 9/11 First Responders, may not get affordable insurance. 
Elisabeth from Phippsburg said:
"In 2014… my husband died from early-onset Alzheimer's. I was 50 when my husband was diagnosed. Eventually I left the workforce to care for him… and, of course, lost my employer-provided health insurance at the same time. 

“The ACA has provided me with options ever since then; options that I never had before its passage. In 2014 I had three joints replaced; life changing surgeries that restored my active lifestyle and removed chronic pain from my life. These were only possible because I was able to access health insurance as an individual, at reasonable cost. " 
The Republican plan for increasing costs for older Americans threatens people just like Elizabeth.
A Constituent from Portland said:
“Last spring, I experienced severe abdominal pain and went to the emergency room. I ended up being admitted and spending 4 days in the hospital with severe diverticulitis that had nearly perforated my intestine. I was unemployed when this happened. If it weren’t for the ACA, I would have been uninsured, and may not have gone to the hospital at all - which could have ultimately resulted in me dying if my bowel had become perforated. 

“If I had not had insurance and gone to the hospital anyway, I would be bankrupt right now. The hospital bill was around $20,000, which I absolutely would not be able to pay. But thanks to my insurance, I only owed $3,000 - which is still a difficult amount for me, but not impossible. I am terrified of what is going to happen if the ACA is repealed.”
Under the Republican plan, more people will be uninsured and will avoid care when they might be in greatest need.
These stories matter, these lives matter.
We must all keep them in mind as we look to change the Affordable Care Act.
I yield back.