Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: CAP Action Campaign Highlights Harm to Children with Preexisting Conditions as Trump Administration Attacks ACA’s Constitutionality
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Action Campaign Highlights Harm to Children with Preexisting Conditions as Trump Administration Attacks ACA’s Constitutionality

Washington, D.C. — As the Trump administration continues to threaten the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including lifetime caps and protections for Americans with preexisting conditions in the federal courts, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to educate Americans on what’s at stake. The campaign will tell the stories of Americans such as Tasha Nelson and Samantha McGovern of the Virginia Little Lobbyists group whose children’s lives depend on protections for preexisting conditions afforded to them by the ACA. 

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit heard oral arguments in the case of Texas V. Azar, a 20-state lawsuit backed by the Trump administration seeking to render the ACA unconstitutional. Caught in the balance are parents such as Nelson and McGovern as well as 20 million other Americans who would lose health care coverage and more than 130 million who would lose preexisting conditions protections nationwide if these efforts are successful. Nelson’s 8-year-old son, Jack, was born with cystic fibrosis, which affects his lungs and digestive system. McGovern’s 3-year-old daughter, Josephine, was born at only 24-weeks gestation and is medically complex, which involves ongoing specialist care averaging about $35,000 a month. For both Nelson and McGovern, the ACA has saved their children’s lives. President Donald Trump’s efforts to strip away their care without an alternative plan puts their lives back in jeopardy. As Nelson says in the video:

“The president has been ineffective in doing anything to help Americans like me and my son with our health care. … There is no replacement plan right now.” 

McGovern’s daughter, Josie, was born into the ACA, and she says that because of the ACA’s protections for preexisting conditions, she never feared whether or not her daughter would be covered. Nelson says that when the full protections for preexisting conditions came into effect in January 2014, it saved her son’s life. 

“[T]he first time in my son’s life at age 3, he couldn’t be denied health insurance because he happened to be born with a fatal genetic illness. He was safe,” Nelson says.  

In December 2018, a federal judge in Texas struck down the entire ACA as unconstitutional—a decision President Trump praised at the time as “Great news for America!” However, this is far from reality for Nelson and McGovern. As McGovern says in the video: 

“Like most middle-class families, I don’t have a million dollars sitting in the bank account to pay for health care. … I am afraid every day for the life of my daughter. That fear is real. There have been moments where I’ve had to resuscitate her.”

If the ACA is struck down, Nelson worries about being able to afford her son’s medication. As she describes in the video, the prescription it takes to help her son breathe costs $200 dollars a day.

“[T]o keep him healthy and alive, it requires a great deal of medication. … He takes at minimum 14 different medications a day, anywhere from 30 to 50 pills a day. One helps him breathe, one helps him eat. Crowdfunding is not sustainable, so it’s not a source that we use. These are expenses we have to hit every single year,” Nelson says.

The Republican tax bill, which eliminated the individual mandate, was a crucial part in the ACA sabotage that led to the ruling in Texas, but for Nelson and McGovern, health care is not a political game. 

“Health care is not a partisan issue. It affects every single American,” Nelson says. 

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Freedom Alexander Murphy at [email protected] or 202-796-9712.