5 Americans Talk About How A Health Law Overhaul Would Affect Them

Sep 23, 2017

As the nation has debated the GOP proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, NPR member station reporters have been talking to people around the country about how the proposed changes in the health law would affect them.

Here are five of those stories:

A young man with Parkinson's Disease. Ford Inbody is already thinking about a time when he won't be able to work. He is 33 and was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease. While many of his Millennial friends are starting families, he and his wife have decided not to have children, and they're carefully planning for the future where he will have to give up his job. Changes that make it harder to afford coverage for pre-existing conditions could affect him drastically. He's hoping he would be able to buy insurance on the exchange once he's no longer covered through work, and that eventually Medicaid would be there for him if and when the disease leaves him disabled. --- Reporting by Alex Smith, KCUR, Kansas City, Mo.

A farmer hopes stay insured until he's old enough for Medicare. Darvin Bentlage says his health insurance plan used to be the same as all the other cattle farmers in Barton County, Mo.: Stay healthy until he turned 65, then get on Medicare. But when he turned 50, things did not go according to plan. He had some health problems, had to refinance his farm to pay those medical bills, and then went without insurance for a while. He says he signed up for insurance on the exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act as soon as he could. If he loses subsidies or gets charged more for his pre-existing conditions, "I just have to go back to plan A and hope I make it to 65," he chuckles. — Reporting by Bram Sable-Smith, KBIA, Columbia, Mo.

A Man With Down's Syndrome Gets By With A Little Help From Medicaid. Evan Nodvin has a job at a fitness center, lives in an apartment and feels so passionately about keeping his independence, he went to Washington to lobby when he heard about potential cuts to Medicaid under GOP health care plans. "My life is very full," he said. "I work, live and play in the community. My dream is to continue this healthy and useful life." A few decades ago, states closed many institutions that took care of people with disabilities in hopes of that they would be integrated into the community. Many can, but with some support. Medicaid is often that support, with the majority of money going to help people with disabilities. — Reporting by Elly Yu, WABE, Atlanta.

A young woman breaking her addiction to opioids. Charlene Yurgaitis, 35, decided after a decade of using opioids, she was ready to tackle her addiction. And she is doing it full-on, with medication-assisted treatment combined with counseling. Medicaid is her insurance, for which she became eligible when Pennsylvania expanded the insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. "I would never be able to afford counseling," she says. "I would never be able to afford psych meds. I would never be able to afford the Vivitrol shot." She says she'd say to lawmakers who want to curtail federal spending on Medicaid, "Why are you trying to change something that's working?" — Reporting by Ben Allen, WITF, Harrisburg, Pa.

A self-employed veteran in California. Air Force veteran Billy Ramos is a contractor in the heating and air conditioning business who is grateful to have Medicaid. He signed up when California expanded the health insurance program for low-income people under the ACA. About 1 in 10 veterans gets help from Medicaid; only about half of the 22 million veterans in the U.S. get care from the VA system. Ramos gets treatment for his hepatitis and feels relieved knowing he has emergency care if something goes awry on the job. --Reporting by Stephane O'Neill, freelance.

These stories are part of a reporting partnership with NPR, local member stations and Kaiser Health News.

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