Reactions To The GOP Health Bill: Voices From The States

As the American Health Care Act moves toward the Senate, many people around the country are reacting to it. Among them, people with preexisting conditions who worry about losing their coverage.

One of the biggest concerns about the House bill is its treatment of preexisting conditions. Several lawmakers were worried it would leave sicker people in the lurch, so an additional $8 billion was negotiated to help that population.

But that is not comforting to Bob Flood of Allen, Texas. He had kidney cancer about 15 years ago. His family had health insurance through one of the so-called high-risk pools that states had before the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Flood says he’s been happy with his current health insurance through healthcare.gov, and he wants to keep it.

“I think we were in it for about six years. And the cost was outrageous. We never met [our] deductible. We had it for catastrophic incidents. And we didn’t feel more like customers. We felt more like we were prisoners. We were subjected to one insurance company. It seems we’re stepping back again into a high-risk pool, which did not work well for many people on it. And I’m just very sad that we don’t seem to be moving forward. We seem to be dancing back.”

— Bob Flood of Allen, Texas

Another provision of the House bill allows insurers to possibly pull back on lifetime benefits and get rid of limits on out-of-pocket costs.

David Mueller of St. Louis has a daughter with a rare form of cystic fibrosis, and he has a plea for Missouri’s senators. Surgeries in her first year of life could have cost the family $2 million without health insurance. Mueller’s terrified bankruptcy could be in the family’s future if the out-of-pocket limit disappears.

“Please remember that my daughter’s life is worth as much as all of their other constituents. In this country we can afford for her to receive the medical treatment that she needs, and that to take it away would be a full rejection of her life’s value.”

— David Mueller of St. Louis

But health insurance on the online marketplaces can be expensive, as it is for Jean Mattila of Hastings, Minn., and her husband. She’s happy to see President Donald Trump take on health care.

“We pay about $1,200 a month in premiums, and that’s with each of us carrying a $7,500 deductible. [Trump] wants a result. That’s what he’s looking for. And that’s what I want. I want a result, because anything is better than what we have now in the health care stuff. And I’m sticking with him.”

— Jean Mattila of Hastings, Minn.

Frank Mutch, who lives in Polson, Mont., is frustrated by the promises he heard from former President Barack Obama.

“You can keep your doctor. You can keep your health plan. You can keep your insurance. And we’re going to save you money. None of those were fulfilled, and that’s why people want something new.”

— Frank Mutch of Polson, Mont.

House Republicans say their “something new” will be more competitive and will lower costs. But experts say those promises will also be hard to keep.

This story is part of a partnership that includes NPR member stations, NPR and Kaiser Health News. Reporters Lauren Silverman, Durrie Bouscaren, Nicky Ouellet and Mark Zdechlik contributed to this report. 

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Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy, politics, and business, reporting on how the health care system — hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurers, governments and consumers — works and doesn’t work. It is responsible for the editorial content of California Healthline. KHN is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.

Neither KHN nor the Kaiser Family Foundation is affiliated with health services provider Kaiser Permanente.

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