On the eight year anniversary week of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (FL) urged policy makers to work together to protect consumer protections, lower costs and end Republican sabotage. The ACA ended discrimination of preexisting conditions in insurance, allowed children to stay on parents plans until age 26, ended lifetime insurance caps and improved Medicare. In addition, the ACA brought lifesaving coverage to millions of Americans particularly Floridians. Yet, eight years later, all of the progress is at risk due to ongoing sabotage by President Trump and Republicans in Congress. Republican's failure to act on sensible bipartisan proposals to stabilize health insurance markets in yesterday's Omnibus funding bill will lead to higher premiums for families across Florida and the country. It is crystal clear that Trump and the Republican Congress are responsible for higher health care costs due to the ongoing Republican sabotage of the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this week, Castor was joined by Tampa area breast cancer survivor, Regina "Gina" Hebert, and Jeff Parrado, Chief Pharmacy Officer at Tampa Family Health Centers, to highlight the impact of the ACA. "I am a small business owner; I pay my taxes; I am a mother, a grandmother; I am a real person with real scars. This is real life for us. The Affordable Care Act saved my life and I am proud to say that every day of my life," said Ms. Hebert, who would have been ineligible for health care coverage due to her pre-existing condition before the consumer protections included in the ACA. Until signing up for the ACA, Ms. Hebert was left without health care insurance after leaving her corporate job to start her own business. After receiving health care coverage through the ACA, she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer, but she is now a survivor.
"Those of us in my shoes refuse to give up."
In Florida, the ACA has reduced the uninsured rate of Floridians by 7.5 percent and it would have been even lower if Florida Republicans and Gov. Scott did not refuse to expand Medicaid coverage like most states. Now the fight continues to protect coverage and lower costs. We must bring scrutiny and competition to out of control drug companies and prices.
Champions like U.S. Rep. Castor and the millions who benefit from the ACA have rallied, marched, written and spoken out throughout the past year against President Trump and Congressional Republicans brazen and unrelenting attempts to rip health care away from working families. In fact, every Republican member from Florida, save U.S. Rep. Ros-Leithen, voted to do away with existing coverage to provide tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy few. U.S. Rep. Castor and her neighbors have carried the day against powerful special interests in Washington, DC. -- Gina Hebert says the law saved her life.
U.S. Rep. Castor now serves as vice ranking member of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee, and eight years ago helped craft the ACA in her committee, so that it works for seniors, women and families. In addition to protecting quality and affordable health care coverage for millions who signed up through the marketplace exchanges, U.S. Rep. Castor is working with her colleagues on a better deal to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug prices, the largest factor driving health cost increases in America today.
Dr. Parrado oversees pharmaceutical services provided by Tampa Family Health Center, which operates some 15 clinics throughout Tampa Bay. He stated his patients "stretch their prescription drugs by skipping doses" because they might not be able to afford it and that "one-third of prescriptions are not even brought to the pharmacy because of affordability and that two thirds of prescriptions are discontinued by the patients themselves."
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor added: "Americans pay more than double what other nations pay for prescription drugs. Today, there are no rules in place to stop drug companies from excessively raising prices on middle-class families. I am working every day to ensure that life-saving health coverage and medications that are so sorely needed are never out of reach for all of our neighbors as a result of "Big Pharma' increasing drug prices without oversight."