U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) held a press conference Monday with Ben Tielle, who will be the Congressman’s guest tonight at the State of the Union. Together they called for an end to the lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Four years ago, Tielle suffered a heart attack and underwent open heart surgery. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with kidney failure. He is now on a dialysis regimen and is on the waiting list for a transplant from a living donor. He has also been living with diabetes for 32 years and uses insulin. The health insurance plan Tielle had through his former employer expired yesterday, and he must now buy a new plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
“Getting to see the State of the Union firsthand is an honor of a lifetime, but I believe it’s also important for me to take this opportunity to share my story and show the real human impact of striking down the ACA,” said Tielle. “As someone whose life now depends on the ACA, this lawsuit worries me every day. If it’s successful, nothing would stop insurance companies from turning me away because of the cost of my prescriptions and treatments. But it’s not just me. There are millions of Americans with stories just like mine. I’m looking forward to going to Washington tomorrow and joining Congressman Cartwright in the fight to protect our health care.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures people with pre-existing conditions can purchase insurance. However, if Republicans win their lawsuit and invalidate the ACA, those protections would be eliminated. Without insurance, Tielle would not be able to afford the medication he needs to manage his blood pressure and diabetes.
“Washington Republicans and others from several states are trying to use the courts to invalidate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of Americans get health insurance,” Cartwright said. “If they succeed, Ben and millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage, seniors will be forced to pay higher prices for prescription drugs, and more. These devastating consequences should be reason enough for this lawsuit to end. In the meantime, I will continue fighting to lower health care costs and strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for The Fifth Circuit ruled that the ACA’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and ordered a lower district court — which had previously struck down the entirety of the ACA — to again determine the fate of the health care law as a whole. If this Republican-led lawsuit succeeds, disastrous consequences on the health and financial well-being of millions of Americans await, Cartwright said.
"It is estimated that 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will no longer be protected, and costs will go up for millions," Cartwright said. "In Northeastern Pennsylvania, 59,000 are at risk of losing their insurance and 282,000 with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage."
Cartwright voted last year to pass H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. The congressman also helped pass H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would give Medicare the power to negotiate with drug companies to secure lower prices for Medicare beneficiaries and Americans with private insurance. Both bills remain stalled in the U.S. Senate, despite having support from both Democrats and Republicans.
Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District includes Lackawanna, Wayne, and Pike Counties, and portions of Luzerne and Monroe Counties.
"It is estimated that 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will no longer be protected, and costs will go up for millions. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, 59,000 are at risk of losing their insurance and 282,000 with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage." --U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright