© 2022 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Hundreds Of Thousands In Conn. Could Lose Coverage Under ACA Repeal

Julie Jacobson
Brian Greenberg pulls his prescription medication from a package at his home in Stamford, Conn. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, he said he would consider leaving the country because of his high-cost medical needs as a Crohn's disease patient.

Some Connecticut residents who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act are speaking up in an effort to convince the Republican-controlled Congress to reconsider repealing President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.

Three years ago, 28-year-old Guilford, Connecticut, resident, Josh Scussell was diagnosed with Stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

He says he believes he’s alive and cancer-free today because of the Affordable Care Act.

“I got sick at the age of 23 and was able to stay on my mother’s insurance until the age of 26. That was enough time to receive not just one but two bone marrow transplants. I turned 26 in December 2014, and I was able to seamlessly transfer to my wife’s insurance plan even though I had a pretty serious pre-existing condition.”

Unionville resident Isabelle Endicott says she hadn’t thought much about the lifetime payment limits on her employer-sponsored health plan. At least not until her second son, Rylan, was born with a serious heart defect in October 2014. Endicott says her son’s emergency open heart surgery at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center cost $250,000.

“I called our insurance and was relieved to find out that because of the Affordable Care Act, an insurance company could not cap a person’s coverage. I now worry about Rylan’s future, not so much about his heart’s health, because he’s in excellent hands with his cardiac team, but for his future in terms of what it would mean for him and our family if significant parts of the affordable Care Act were repealed.”

Jonathan Miller, a 26-year-old Meriden resident, was born with cystic fibrosis. He says he’ll be left without health insurance if the ACA is repealed because he doesn’t have full-time work and it would be difficult for him to afford it.

“I’m able to get all the medications and all the treatments that I need every single day that literally keep me alive. And without it I don’t know where I would be of course.”

Miller says he’s extremely troubled that the Republican-controlled Congress has repeal of the ACA as its number one priority.

“Since Election Day, I don’t sleep at night. I struggle to find peace and calmness during the day, wondering, ‘Will I be able to pay my bills next year, will I get the care, will I be alive next year?’ It’s not a feeling I’d like anybody to have to have.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., says he’s hoping that the stories of people like Scussel, Endicott and Miller will help sway enough of his Republican colleagues to slow the momentum for immediate repeal of the ACA without a replacement.

“They said they want everybody to have access to healthcare, that they want to preserve the consumer protections, but they don’t think that the Affordable Care Act is the way to do it. Okay, put your money where your mouth is. Give us a plan that allows Josh and Jonathan and Isabelle to keep their insurance coverage. Right now they’re going back on what they promised for the last six years, they are repealing the law with no replacement, which is going to throw the whole act into chaos.”

Republican leaders in Congress have said they expect to take up the repeal of the ACA in early January.

There are about 250,000 Connecticut residents currently signed up for health insurance through the ACA.  

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.