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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Wasserman Schultz's Dear Sen. Rubio letter on a 'truer portrait of Obamacare'



Sen. Marco Rubio has encouraged constituents to send in stories about Obamacare. Today Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz did that, offering what she says is a "truer portrait of Obamacare."

Dear Senator Rubio,

On Thursday, you invited residents in our home state of Florida to share with you their Obamacare stories. Now, I know the stories you were hoping for were those detailing technical glitches and negative enrollment experiences but just this morning, I visited the Borinquen Health Care Center in Miami where I met with numerous individuals excited that they will finally have access to quality, affordable health insurance. Here are just a few Obamacare stories that I thought you should see…

Jason Conner was raised by a single mother who cared for her three sons despite an income that was 100 percent below the poverty level. His family has not had health insurance for generations. Now 29, Jason is a small business owner, but he did not have insurance through his job. Because of a preexisting condition, he found that individual plans were astronomically expensive and offered little coverage: The minimum care would still cost him $1,200 per month. So when open enrollment began this month, Jason was delighted to discover that he could sign up for a platinum plan through the Marketplace for just $350 per month. He has even helped his brother sign up for coverage.

Miriam Romero, who moved to the U.S. from Puerto Rico, had gone years without coverage, a risky proposition for a woman who is now 61. Under the old health care system, she simply couldn’t afford it. But since the Health Insurance Marketplaces opened, she has signed up for a bronze plan and will now have quality care for just $136 per month.

Carolyn Newman’s story is especially personal for me, because like me, she is a breast cancer survivor. Except when Carolyn got that terrifying diagnosis, she was unemployed, making her ineligible for group insurance. During the treatment that saved her life, Carolyn was enrolled in a high-risk pool through Blue Cross Blue Shield. But in the years since she beat the disease, she has been saddled with a monthly premium of $1,270 due to a preexisting condition. Carolyn is one of the Floridians who received a letter from her insurance company as the ACA marketplaces opened. The letter informed her that since she could no longer be discriminated against because she was a cancer survivor, she could sign up for a new plan, a plan that would cut her monthly payments nearly in half, to $641.

Additionally, I recently received the following letter into my Congressional office from a cancer patient whose COBRA coverage runs out in 18 months: “I'm attaching a picture I snapped of the statement I received from my insurance company regarding my chemotherapy treatment for the month of July, which was one treatment - $110,760.80. I'm grateful that I have insurance right now, but it's COBRA, it's expensive, and it runs out in 18 months. If the Affordable Care Act is not in place in 18 months, I will never be able to get insurance - or treatment.  This is real for me- it is life or death for me. And I am grateful that President Obama is not willing to negotiate with my life as this nation is held hostage by political terrorists. Please let Debbie know my entire family is grateful for all she is doing for those that need her help - I am one of them. -Mary Ann Wasil”

Senator Rubio, I know that these are not the stories you were hoping for. But they are real. This is Obamacare. These are just a few examples of hard-working Americans who were struggling against a rising tide of medical expenses, or living without the security of health insurance, knowing that at any moment illness or injury could devastate their lives. There are many, many more Americans like Jason, Miriam, Mary Ann and Carolyn in Florida and across the country who are already benefitting from the Affordable Care Act.

Rather than trolling for negative stories and throwing obstacles in the path of implementation, let’s agree that the Affordable Care Act is settled law and work together to improve access to quality, affordable health insurance for every American. 


 Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Member of Congress

[Last modified: Thursday, October 31, 2013 6:24pm]


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