RELEASE: ‘The ACA Saved My Life’: Breast Cancer Survivor Reacts to Lie That Trump Administration Saved Preexisting Conditions Protections

Washington, D.C. — As President Donald Trump lies that he was “the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare”—even as his administration continues to try to use the federal courts to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in its social media campaign to educate the nation on what’s a stake for millions of Americans with preexisting conditions. 

The campaign is telling stories of Americans such as Kimberly Dickens of Raleigh, North Carolina, whose life was changed when she was suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after signing up for the ACA and going for a routine checkup. Dickens says that the ACA was the reason she was able to get that checkup. Given that a breast cancer patient’s survival rate decreases as the cancer spreads and reaches each stage, Dickens believes that she wouldn’t have found out about her diagnosis until it was too late if it hadn’t been for the ACA. Now, Dickens says she worries about the Trump administration’s hostility toward the ACA and protections for people with preexisting conditions, and what could have happened to her if the ACA hadn’t been there when she needed it most. 

“The ACA saved my life. Being diagnosed with breast cancer was a total surprise to me. It hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said. “I had a preexisting condition. It scares me to think that if I didn’t have insurance, how far the cancer would have grown.”

Prior to the ACA, women who purchased health care plans on the individual market could be charged more for their monthly premiums simply because they were women, under a practice known as “gender rating,” which is based on the false idea that women are more expensive to insure than men. The ACA outlawed the discriminatory practice of gender rating and barred insurance companies from denying women coverage for women’s health conditions such as breast cancer or pregnancy. The ACA also expanded access to preventive care for women, including free annual mammograms, which is critical for the 1 in 8 women in the United States who, like Dickens, develop breast cancer in their lifetimes. Dickens says that the ACA not only allowed her to receive the mammogram that caught the cancer before it spread, but it also significantly helped with the astronomical cost of her treatment allowing her to focus on her recovery. 

“Going through all the things I had to to get better—I just think about how grateful I am. If it wasn’t for the Affordable Care Act, I probably wouldn’t have that mammogram. I was diagnosed early,” she said. “When it came to the bill, it was $60,000, I only had to pay $60. That tremendously lifted a weight. I could focus on other things and get back healthy.” 

Last year, the Trump administration backed a 20-state lawsuit seeking to overturn the entire ACA in the courts after making dozens of failed attempts to repeal the law and protections for preexisting conditions. According to The Washington Post, the administration has even stalled on plans to write an alternative to the ACA should it be successfully repealed or struck down—despite President Trump’s claim that “Republicans only will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” Dickens, who just celebrated her first cancer-free birthday, says that the Trump administration’s attempts to strip 20 million Americans of their health care and another 135 million people of their preexisting conditions protections is wholly inconsiderate of the human costs of the ACA repeal. 

“To take that away from people, I think that’s awful. If President Trump takes away the Affordable Care Act, there will be situations where people will die,” Dickens said. “Everybody should have health care. … Everybody is a brother, sister, mother, or a friend to somebody else. We’re the United States of America—if you’re not healthy, then you can’t be a productive citizen.”

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