Washington, D.C. — As the Trump administration continues to threaten the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 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 stories of Americans such as Stephanie Sena, a single mother and adjunct professor from Philadelphia, who purchased coverage under the Trump administration’s so-called junk plans, which are designed to undercut the consumer protections enshrined in the ACA. Sena purchased a plan, later finding that her serious medical needs were not covered as promised. As she explains in the video, the administration’s sabotage of the ACA through junk insurance puts the lives of millions of Americans at severe risk.
“The plans that the Trump administration are peddling as the alternative to the ACA are dangerous and he knows it,” she says. “If the ACA is repealed, I believe that more and more Americans will find themselves in the position that I’ve been in—without health insurance when they need it the most.”
According to Sena, her health care problems began after she experienced a life-threatening fall that would ultimately require ongoing care and the amputation of her foot. She recalls that she was not expecting for the plan that she had purchased to have the limitations that it did.
“A skimpy plan that I purchased, which I believed would cover me and all my emergency needs, didn’t cover anything. These plans are just fraud,” she says.
While the skimpy plans ushered in by the Trump administration advertised a cheaper alternative to the ACA-compliant plans, these junk plans often refuse to cover preexisting conditions and certain medical services or even put a cap on payouts—all of the worst aspects of the pre-ACA insurance market. As Sena can attest, the plan she purchased left her in serious financial troubles.
“I was left with this crippling medical debt that’s hard to see my way out of. I owe about $100,000 to the hospitals,” she says.
Last month, after dozens of other failed attempts by the Trump administration to repeal the ACA, 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 strike down the entire ACA. Caught in the balance of the court fight are the people such as Sena, who says that she wants people to know her story because she has experienced firsthand the impacts of the Trump administration’s junk insurance plans and does not want to return to an era where those experiences were commonplace.
“[President Donald] Trump is willing to tell people anything that they want to hear. It’s a danger to convince Americans that these skimpy plans are an alternative to the ACA. They don’t protect anybody,” Sena says. “I want to make sure that more Americans are protected, that we keep the protections we already have, we don’t dismantle the ACA.”
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