We need to move forward, not back

By Kate E., Charleston, West Virginia

As West Virginians, we’ve been pushing to get our elected officials to listen to their voices and not repeal the Affordable Care Act. On Sunday, June 25, more than 2,000 people from all over West Virginia gathered together to share and listen to health care stories from their communities.

Two thousand West Virginians packed the auditorium.

The first story was told by Leigh Ann. Leigh Ann’s daughter was one of the 25 overdoses in the course of five hours in Huntington one day in August. After agreeing to get help, her daughter Taylor struggled to find an in-patient treatment facility that could take her. She resorted to waiting lists. Leigh Ann got the call four days after Taylor died of an overdose that there was a bed available for her. She believes that Obamacare opponents aren’t doing enough to help addicts, because their suggested “replacement” bills have not provided new clinics or more beds, which is what West Virginia needs the most.

Rachel from Morgantown was the next to share her story. When she went into Planned Parenthood to have her annual exam, physicians noticed some abnormal cells that could have turned into cervical cancer had they not caught it when they did. She owes everything to Planned Parenthood for being thorough and an affordable option for women in our state.

Sammi from Charlestown said she went to Planned Parenthood after noticing a lump in her breast. They confirmed that she had three other lumps that she hadn’t even noticed and gave her a referral to get biopsies. Luckily, she was able to find out that she didn’t have cancer, but will still be having surgery to remove these lumps in short order.

Volunteers at the event speak out to protect Obamacare.

Sumer, in Beckley, spoke about how her mother, a single mother of six, worked two to three jobs but was only able to receive health care through Medicaid after its expansion under Obamacare. Unfortunately, she didn’t have access to health care when her breast cancer could have been quickly diagnosed and treated. Instead, Sumer was orphaned with her twin brother. She now works to help people in poverty so that kids are never left in the same situation that she was.

Bailey from Sissonville received medically-assisted opioid treatment thanks to Medicaid and has managed to stay clean with its support.

Russell, in Nitro, found out about his testicular cancer on Mother’s Day 2012. His treatments were going to be too expensive. Medicaid prevented him from going bankrupt and allowed him to stay afloat long enough to get all of his treatments. He’s in remission now.

Valerie from Charleston is a transgender woman who had an asthma attack in 2008 before she received insurance through Obamacare. She went to her pharmacy to get an inhaler, but had to walk away empty-handed because she couldn’t afford it. She was struggling to breathe until her next paycheck. Now she’s able to get the care that she needs without issue.

For West Virginians — as with people across the country — the Affordable Care Act has changed the landscape so that people who need it most are able to get care. Any next steps should be towards further improving the ACA — not repealing it.

Originally published at www.ofa.us.

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