If you've found yourself wondering what's been going on with the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, you're not alone. Previously dubbed the American Health Care Act, the Senate has officially released its version of a health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or the BCRA. The BCRA will need to be reconciled with the AHCA before it can be any closer to becoming law, but that isn't exactly good news. Make no mistake, this amended version of the House bill is no less troubling than it's predecessor. The bill would still roll back Medicaid exponentially, as well as impose possible lifetime spending caps, meaning the state could decide how much insurance companies can cover for someone. But this mom's Twitter thread about lifetime caps will break your heart, and hopefully explain that lifetime caps are nothing if not cruel and unusual.
Twitter user Alison Chandra (@Aliranger29) took to Twitter on Friday to show the world how her family has been positively affected by Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Sharing a photo of her son's hospital bill following his latest open heart surgery, Chandra opened up about her son's condition, how her family's health insurance through her husband's job has covered it, and what will potentially happen if the BCRA is passed as-is. Chandra's thread is beautiful, powerful, and heartbreaking in more ways than one. And it is of the utmost importance as lawmakers are deciding the future of American health care as we speak.
As can be seen on Chandra's photo of her son's hospital bill, the total cost of her son Ethan's surgery before insurance was $231, 115. With the family's insurance, however, they only have to pay $500. And while that is still a pretty large amount of money, Chandra's family's insurance means that they do not have to go into debt caring for their youngest.
Read the rest of Chandra's story here.
The "lifetime caps" Chandra is referring to are the amounts that insurance companies previously would spend on patients. Meaning if a company put a $1 million lifetime cap on someone, and the patient surpassed that amount in health costs, they would lose all benefits. As Vox puts it,
Before the Affordable Care Act, 91 million Americans were enrolled in health insurance plans that capped the amount of benefits a given enrollee could receive. Many of these caps were around $1 or $2 million, meaning that once a patient went over that amount, their benefits simply expired.
This would even apply to those with insurance provided by their workplace. And for Chandra, and the thousands of other family's with debilitating health issues, this lifetime cap could actually mean the difference between life and death.
For Chandra's son, Ethan, who suffers from heterotaxy, a rare condition that can cause heart defects, of which Ethan has nine, lifetime caps could mean the end of the line.
And Ethan isn't the only American whose life would be significantly altered by the Republican bill. Lifetime caps would also mean that premature babies, who spend weeks in the NICU, could reach their limit before they're even released from the hospital.
Not only would the Republican plan potentially do away with mandated prenatal care, it would also mean that anyone born with a crippling health condition — or someone who develops an issue later in life — might not even have a chance at fighting for their life with the help of modern medicine.
In a statement to Romper, Chandra spoke to the significance of Ethan's story, and what she hopes her post will accomplish:
We're just hopeful that Ethan's story can spark a different conversation around this healthcare bill, one that takes into account the fact that there are real people that stand to be deeply affected by it; it's not partisan politics. It's our kids' lives.
And truly, it seems as though politics have become more and more inhumane lately. The Republican health care bill is a prime example of that, and of the lack of understanding lawmakers have about the people they represent.
Ethan's life is worth more than any amount of money, and so is every child, teenager, or adult struggling with any health issue. Health care should not be "partisan politics," as Chandra says. It should be about people, plain and simple.