Parents of disabled children say GOP health care bill would hurt more than help


AUSTIN (KXAN) – A few hundred people packed into a special town hall at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Austin Sunday to talk about the Republican health care bill. U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said he wanted to hear from constituents.

“The congressional budget office says that we are talking about 15,000,000 people that will lose their Medicaid coverage. Overall the projection is that one of every three dollars that is invested in Medicaid will be eliminated,” said Doggett.

Doggett invited people to step up to the microphone and share their thoughts. The latest version of the Republican plan was released just last week called the “Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

The act includes an additional $70 billion in help for out-of-pocket costs. It would allow people to use health savings accounts to pay for premiums, and it allocates $45 billion to fight the opioid abuse epidemic. But, it would keep existing taxes on the wealthy currently in place under Obamacare and also make significant cuts to Medicaid.

One Leander mother is speaking out, scared of what the proposed bill could mean for her son. She told KXAN she depends on the help she receives from Medicaid and said if it’s cut, it could mean life or death for her son.

When Holly Cole was 20 weeks pregnant she found out her son, Anderson had Spina Bifida.

“He has an oxygen concentrator, oxygen bottles, a feeding pump for his G-Tube,” said Cole. That’s just a few things she said her son needs to survive.

With Anderson’s condition, he has to have a nurse watch him 24 hours a day and he spends much of his life connected to tubes. It’s a lifestyle that is far from cheap.

“I have boxes of bills that we were lucky enough to have Medicaid cover,” said Cole. “ I’m not a very political person, I never really have been,”

However, when Holly began reading up on the proposed American Health Care Act and learned under certain circumstances, it would allow insurers to set premiums based on medical history, she became very political.

“He could be one of the kids that could lose his Medicaid altogether because he does have pre-existing condition, he has multiple pre-existing conditions,” said Cole.

Without Medicaid, Cole said there’s no way she could pay for all of her son’s medical needs.

“I’m not the only parent that feels this way and that knows this, that knows if their services are cut, their children will die,” said Cole.

That’s why she said she’s writing and calling everyone she can in hopes of changing the proposed bill.

“Now, not only am I fighting to keep him alive every day because of what he was born with, because of his conditions … now, I am fighting to keep him alive because of our government. That’s just not right, it’s just not right to have to try and fight for your child to survive because of laws,” said Cole.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was on Meet The Press Sunday morning addressing the health care plan. He said it’s a better alternative than the Affordable Care Act and it would give 600,000 low-income Texans access to private insurance which they don’t currently have.

“Our Democratic friends are refusing to lift a finger to help their very constituents who are being hurt. But, I think Republicans have made repeated promises in elections leading up to now that we would and we could do better. And I believe we will do better. This bill actually, I think, has gotten much better as a result of the discussion we had amongst ourselves,” said Cornyn.

Cornyn said it’s his job to get enough votes to pass the bill. A vote planned for this week, is expected to be put on hold, until Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recovers from a surprise surgery.

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