Chris Jennings is 66, retired, and lives on social security income of $1,200 per month.

In June, Jennings went to the hospital with blood clots in her lungs and stayed there for four days.

That’s a preexisting condition, which could make Jennings ineligible for private health insurance if the Affordable Care Act goes away.

The medication she’s taken since for the blood clots would also cost $485 a month without the ACA, she said.

Timothy Morris of Eugene lost his job in May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he spends sleepless nights wondering whether he should sell the car or keep it because he may need to live in it if he can’t make the rent.

Morris said having health insurance under the ACA gives him one less problem to lose sleep over.

He watched his mother struggle with medical bills before she died, and said those kitchen table discussions changed dramatically after the ACA passed.

“It’s a night and day kind of difference,” he said.

Jennings and Morris were among the everyday ACA beneficiaries who joined U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio on Thursday in a discussion about what could happen if the Supreme Court overturns the act.

The court is only two weeks away from a hearing on the act’s constitutionality.

The court is expected to take up Texas v. California one week after the election. The court has been asked to decide whether the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional. It will also consider the possibility that just parts of the act are unconstitutional, such as the protection of those with preexisting conditions.

The case was filed by a group of plaintiff states, led by Texas, that oppose the ACA. Another group of states, led by California, is defending the ACA.

President Donald Trump’s administration has sided with the plaintiffs in opposition to the ACA. His recent Supreme Court appointment of Amy Coney Barrett has raised concerns among ACA supporters like DeFazio that the entire act may be thrown out.

“And there is no immediate replacement,” DeFazio said.

DeFazio said if that happens, 73,000 people in his Fourth Congressional District would immediately lose their insurance — people who had received expanded Medicaid under the ACA through the Oregon Health Plan. The Fourth District includes Douglas and Lane Counties, along with most of Southwestern Oregon.

If the specific protection for people with preexisting conditions is thrown out, then another 372,000 in his district could lose their insurance too.

Loss of the ACA would also increase prescription drug costs for many seniors on Medicare Part D. About 155,000 people in his district are on Medicare Part D, he said.

Some Oregonians don’t remember, he said, that Oregon Health Plan membership used to be determined via a lottery.

“Every year, tens of thousands of people were not allowed to get on the plan because they didn’t win the lottery,” he said.

The ACA ended the lottery and gave the state the resources to extend OHP to all who were eligible.

Round table participant Donna Courtney, formerly an insurance underwriter, said people with conditions ranging from weight issues to prediabetes to osteoporosis could be denied insurance if the preexisting condition protection goes away.

She said contracting COVID-19 would also become a preexisting condition.

She said she found some people were denied insurance because of a condition recorded in a doctor’s notes that they didn’t even know about.

“To go back to those days would really be just so catastrophic, and I think people just simply don’t realize what that looks like,” she said.

DeFazio said these are life and death issues for people in his district.

DeFazio, up for reelection this year, also pointed out his opponent Alek Skarlatos opposes the Affordable Care Act.

While that’s true, Skarlatos has also said he wants to protect people with preexisting conditions.

But DeFazio said neither Skarlatos nor the Republicans nor President Trump have put forward a plan to do that.

“The president said, ‘Well I’ll have something better, much better, much better, it’ll be fabulous. Everybody will have better insurance and it will cost less.’ Well he’s had 4 years in the White House and there’s no plan,” DeFazio said.

DeFazio said if the ACA is thrown out, he would push for a better version of the bill. He favored the House version rather than the Senate version that ultimately passed, he said. The House version had a national health care exchange and removed the health insurance industry’s antitrust immunity.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(5) comments

CitizenJoe

This article shows why DeFazio is a treasure. He understands the issues and has the political chops to act in the interest of the 820,00 of us in the fourth CD.

Skarlatos has neither. He--like the rest of the Republican Party--give lip service to the protections afforded by the ACA, while trying to undermine it at the level of every branch of government--and destroy it in the Supreme Court.

NJ

Two things I learned yesterday: 1) The Trump Administration has no plan for health care. Nothing but lies skiffing off the top with generalities, grandiose

promises, but nothing real. It shouldn't be surprising since he's never actually had a plan for anything. His only real accomplishment is his ability to spew lies as easy as he breathes.

2) It appears as though Alek Skarlotos has been violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice rules by running campaign ads showing him in uniform without a disclaimer that he's not backed or endorsed by the U.S. Military. If the kid had more experience and knowledge he would have known better than to let DC Republicans purposefully allow him to violate those rules. He's being handled by the Republican Party who aren't interested in him any further than to get his behind in a Congressional chamber chair. Makes one wonder if many young Republicans got into Congress the same way, Matt Gaetz is another perfect example of a Representative whose behavior is more like a Frat Boy Clown. Are these young Republicans even learning how to legislate? It doesn't appear so.

sources: https://www.yahoo.com/news/us-military-chews-trump-ally-214126695.html - and, https://host2.advertisinganalyticsllc.com/admo/viewer/3095945

smb

He's no longer serving so does UCMJ still apply? I don't believe as a "one and done" enlistee it applies when he leaves military service, perhaps for a retiree but not 5 years in the Guard.

Not sure this matters nearly as much as his actual experience in uniform. He left as an E4 so can someone explain what leadership experience he has, how precisely his military service makes him qualified to be our representative in Congress?

NJ

My impression was that the rule violation is about endorsement. The uniform gives him an appearance of endorsement from the military. Miitiary rules state your uniform can't be worn for campaigning under any circumstance as the military does not ever endorse a political candidates.

I have to say smb that I've worked with a young(er than me) guy who came out of his service a higher grade than E4 and it was as if the military did the same thing public school does with teaching kids what they can learn and moving them forward anyway. And here's a quick explanation from Google: "The Army Specialist's (E-4) job is focused on technical expertise and they normally have less personnel leadership responsibilities than Corporals, they are often promoted to the E-4 pay grade due to enlisting." (ouch)

NJ

One more thing. When you leave the military and apply for a federal job which includes campaigning to be hired into Congress, your application receives "points" which work in your favor as opposed to other applicants.

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