Group seeks to pro­tect Af­ford­able Care Act

Some voice con­cerns to Hoyer about health in­sur­ance costs

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

The Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton in Jan­uary was the first step to­ward ef­fec­tive change in the coun­try, for the To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter. Now the or­ga­ni­za­tion has de­cided to team up with Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) in or­der to tackle the health se­cu­rity of their fam­i­lies.

Since 2014, more than 20 mil­lion Amer­i­cans re­ceived health in­sur­ance through the Af­ford­able Care Act, also called Oba­macare. As the new ad­min­is­tra­tion at­tempts to re­peal the act, many Amer­i­cans fear the worst. How­ever, the mem­bers of TWW say the fight is not over yet.

On Feb. 18, the day of na­tional ac­tion to pro­tect

the ACA, Hoyer met with mem­bers of To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary- land Chap­ter, at a home in Lex­ing­ton Park to dis­cuss how the re­peal would im- pact the re­gion. Hoyer said he be­lieves the TWW is re­flec­tive and in­dica­tive of the ex­tra­or­di­nary ener- gy and con­cern that ex­ists in the coun­try.

“Re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act with­out a plan to re­place it will have a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact on Mary­lan­ders — 347,000 would lose health cov­er­age, in­clud­ing 60,000 chil­dren, and many fam­i­lies could see their health costs sky­rocket,” Hoyer said in a re­lease. “I thank To­gether We Will for at­tend­ing the Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton and look­ing for ad­di­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties to get in­volved and I look for­ward to work­ing to­gether to ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity about what is at stake if the ACA is re­pealed and ad­vo­cate for poli­cies that will en­sure a stronger fu­ture for all of us.”

Ju­lia Ni­chols, the group’s South­ern Mary­land chap­ter li­ai­son, said chap­ter lead­ers were able to talk with Hoyer about the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s goals and mak­ing con­nec­tions in or­der to help move their ideas for­ward.

“I like the fact that he is lis­ten­ing to his con­stituents which is im­por­tant for all of our mem­bers of Congress and any of our rep­re­sen­ta­tives to re­mem­ber that they work for the peo­ple,” Ni­chols said. “I hope we can do more to pro­vide woman-power for some of the things that need to be done. We have 2,200 peo­ple and we can mo­bi­lize them so quickly be­cause of our Face­book group.”

Af­ter the 2016 elec­tion, friends Casey Gre­nier, Kimberly Dungey, Sa­man­tha Field and Chris­tine DalBello formed a lo­cal chap­ter of the Face­book group Pantsuit Na­tion. In or­der to be­come more po­lit­i­cally ac­tive, they changed the name to be­come af­fil­i­ated with the na­tional group To­gether We Will. The lo­cal group now has about 2,200 mem­bers in South­ern Mary­land and aims to sup­port, en­gage and change their com­mu­nity through in­form­ing oth­ers and tak­ing ac­tion on lo­cal, state and fed­eral lev­els of govern­ment.

Hoyer dis­cussed how the ACA ben­e­fits in­di­vid­u­als with pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions, young adults re­main­ing on their par­ents’ in­sur­ance un­til the age of 26, life­time lim­its, an­nual lim­its and pre­ven­tive care. He said his goal is to en­er­gize peo­ple all over the coun­try and get those who are con­cerned about their fam­i­lies and com­mu­nity to be­come en­gaged.

Dur­ing the gath­er­ing, mem­bers of the group ex- pressed how the ACA has af­fected them per­son­ally.

“The ACA made my small-busi­ness dreams come true. If it goes away I will likely have to close my doors and go back to a job that is through an agency that of­fers health

in­sur­ance. The other is­sue is that the clients that I do have will be left with­out a ther­a­pist and cov­er­age. It af­fects me per­son­ally, so I’m terri- fied but also very brave, and the ‘nasty woman’ is com­ing out,” said Re­bec- ca Pinck­ney of BLOOM Well­ness LLC.

“My mom is cov­ered be­cause of the Af­ford­able Care Act and she didn’t have med­i­cal in­sur­ance for a long time be­fore that, so please keep it. We need it,” said Wrenn Heisler, who hosted the meet­ing at her home south of Lex- in­g­ton Park.

Chris­tine Bergmark of Lex­ing­ton Park said she lost her job last year. By law, she needs to have health in­sur­ance — but it is too costly. “I have a fam­ily of three. One of the in­sur­ance op­tions is ap­prox­i­mately $1,400 a month or $16,000 a year. How does one pay that when they do not have a job? I don’t want to re­peal the ACA, but I do want to see it fixed. I also want to hear more from the doc­tors who ap­pear to be left out of this,” Bergmark said.

North Beach res­i­dent and small busi­ness owner Anne Sun­der­mann agreed. “I’m so pleased to have the Af­ford­able Care Act come in. How­ever, I am hav­ing trou­ble with the af­ford­able part,” Sun­der­mann said. “In 2015, I paid $259 a month; in 2016, I paid $318 a month; in 2017, I paid $531 a month. I can’t af­ford this as a sin­gle busi­ness owner.”

Me­chan­icsville res­i­dent JoeAnne Pellini as­sured Hoyer that the or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to sus­tain its ef­forts, con­tinue to be heard and get the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate to pay at­ten­tion to their cause.

“We will ... be­cause we’re all in this to­gether,” Hoyer said.

“I’ve never seen a time when I thought the ba­sic in­ter­ests of Amer­ica were at risk,” Hoyer said. “Some chil­dren have di­a­betes, birth de­fects and heart prob­lems and now they can get health in­sur­ance through the ACA ... I have met with all of the CEOs of the hos­pi­tals in South­ern Mary­land this past week to ask them what they thought. A ma­jor­ity of them be­lieve re­peal­ing the ACA would lead to very bad con­se­quences for hos­pi­tals in South­ern Mary­land.”

Wal­dorf res­i­dent Molly McCloskey wants to make sure the group is con­tact­ing the right lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to voice their opin­ions about the ACA. She is also hope­ful that lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives will work hard to make sure lo­cal fam­i­lies can thrive with af­ford­able health in­sur­ance.

“I think so­cial me­dia and groups like Pantsuit Na­tion, which evolved out­ward, have changed the def­i­ni­tion of ‘lo­cal,’” McCloskey said. “I know there are rea­son­able peo­ple on both sides of the aisle [in the Se­nate and in Congress] who could lit­i­gate this out­side the Sun­day morn­ing talk shows and come to the rea­son­able im­por­tant de­ci­sions to make this work for ev­ery­one.”

Above, The To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter gath­ered at a pri­vate home in Lex­ing­ton Park with Rep. Steny Hoyer to dis­cuss health in­sur­ance through the Af­ford­able Care Act. Right, Many women who were peace­ful protestors at the Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton in Jan­uary also at­tended the To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter meet­ing with Rep. Steny Hoyer in Lex­ing­ton Park last Satur­day.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Rep. Steny Hoyer talked about health care with mem­bers of To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter last week­end.

Me­chan­icsville res­i­dent JoeAnne Pellini sports a “Nasty Woman” T-shirt and Fort Wash­ing­ton res­i­dent Heather Grat­ton shows off her Women’s March On Wash­ing­ton T-shirt at the To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter meet­ing on Satur­day.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

Rep. Steny Hoyer dis­cussed the Af­ford­able Care Act with mem­bers of the To­gether We Will — South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter last Satur­day in Lex­ing­ton Park.

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