To the Honorable Pat Tiberi:

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Open letters to Rep. Tiberi from the constituents of Ohio's 12th district

We, the people of Ohio's District 12, have requested a Town Hall with Rep. Tiberi to share these stories but he has resisted. He was given a petition with thousands of constituents' signatures requesting an open, public town hall in January of 2017. His last town hall was in September of 2015. We invited him to one we planned for him, but he didn't come. We will be heard. We will persist.

This is a collection of personal stories on our experiences with health care before and after the ACA. These stories document how the ACA has affected our lives. If you would like to be included, please click "Submit your story" below.

Christine’s story

A grandmother wants a guarantee that her granddaughter will have good, affordable health care as she grows up with medical issues.

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My 6 year old granddaughter has a congenital skeletal abnormality that has already caused her some pain, fear and suffering. She faces a lifetime of orthopedic and neurological problems, and the additional handicap of a very short stature. She is also a bright, beautiful and lively little girl who is cherished by everyone who meets her. As an adult, she will need health insurance like everyone else does. Under the ACA she would be able to get insurance that costs no more than the insurance your children and grandchildren will be entitled to when they are grown. If you replace the ACA, you must retain the provision that forbids insurers to refuse to insure someone with a pre-existing condition, or to charge a higher rate for those with a pre-existing condition. High risk pools are not a solution. They are not fair and they are not affordable. They have been tried and they did not work.

Federal employees like you and me are able to get health insurance at a reasonable cost for ourselves and our dependents, regardless of the state of our health, with no physical exam and no exclusions for pre-existing conditions. Many insurers participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, so it must be financially beneficial for them. Everyone in America deserves the same affordable health insurance that you have, and I have. Please be sure you keep American's best interests in mind when you are replacing the ACA. Please be sure my little granddaughter will always have affordable health insurance. I can do a lot for her, but I cannot do that. You, Mr. Tiberi, must do that.

Zip code 43068

Zach’s story

A high school teacher worries for the future of opioid addiction treatment

First of all, thank you for your service as our representative in Congress. I am your constituent, and live near the Beechwold neighborhood. I came here today because I am greatly concerned about the opioid epidemic in our state and the impact your actions on the ACA may have on it.

I am originally from Portsmouth, Ohio, and have seen the disease of addiction ravage my former community, family members, and high school friends. Unfortunately, this disease has spread throughout our state, as seen in the recent outbreaks of mass overdoses seen in many cities and towns in Ohio and neighboring states. As a public high school teacher, I have seen this disease devastate the families and lives of more than a few of my students. It is a dire problem, and our state and communities have fortunately taken vital steps in order to combat it, but more difficult steps remain ahead.

Unfortunately, however, your desire to dismantle and/or repeal the Affordable Care Act will make combating this epidemic much more difficult and perhaps even impossible.

Currently, around 964,000 Ohioans stand to lose coverage if the ACA is repealed, and our state stands to lose approximately $48 billion in federal funding for programs like Medicaid, CHIP, and financial assistance for marketplace coverage.

Our governor, John Kasich, a republican who you endorsed in the most recent presidential primary, has more than once claimed that the Medicaid expansion under the ACA was a powerful and necessary tool in fighting opiate addiction in our state. In fact, he is on record as saying: “Thank God we expanded Medicaid because that Medicaid money is helping rehab people.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, around 500,000 Ohioans who did not have coverage before the ACA now receive treatment for mental health and/or addiction. In fact, in the same Dispatch article, Greg Moody, director of Gov. Kasich’s Health Transformation Office, stated that before the expansion, the addiction system was “on its knees” and completely unable to serve the needs of the citizens of Ohio. He also claimed that many of the addicted in Ohio simply “had no place to go” for treatment. If the ACA is repealed, many of sick and addicted people in our state will simply have no place to go once again.

To speak of the numerous effects of addiction on personal health, friends, and families would be impossible to do here in any semblance of adequacy. However, I can easily speak to the consequences the repeal would have on our state as a whole. The effects a large group of untreated addicts can have on society are numerous and thoroughly documented. Failing to treat those struck by this disease will lead to an increase in crime, spread of infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, a decrease in life expectancy in our state, loss of productivity, and, most importantly, immense pain and suffering among the sick and those who love them.

Finally, my question for you, Rep. Tiberi, is this: Can you promise me that 1) either the ACA will not be repealed, but improved, OR 2) if repealed, whatever replaces it will still ensure that the hundreds of thousands of Ohioans struggling with opioid addiction will not lose access to the treatment options they have now? Can you assure me that they will not lose this coverage?

Thank you for your time and, again, your service as our representative in Congress.

Zip code 43214

Cherie's story

Cancer causes spiraling health care costs for a small business until the ACA provides relief.

I was diagnosed with a rare liver tumor in 2008. That surgery alone cost more than $50,000. Prior to that I had 2 malignant melanomas removed. As small-business self-insureds, our insurance coverage became a nightmare. We were trapped into a high-premium plan we could not change because of my pre-existing conditions. We spent over $20,000 per year for coverage for our staff as well as our family. In addition, we spent at least $10,000 per year in out-of-pocket deductible expenses.

The ACA changed that for us. No longer could we be discriminated against for pre-existing conditions or fear going over our lifetime cap. Our college age daughter has coverage. The ACA needs to be fixed, not repealed. Stop playing politics with our lives.

Zip code 43065

Emia's story

A plea from a constituent.

We are in your district and urge you to not repeal the ACA. We recognize that the ACA needs changes but we believe that we need to start with what is in existence to save taxpayer money and time. Don't remove ACA, improve it!!!!

Zip code 43214

Norma's story

A reader responds to one of the previous stories.

I just read Ruth's story and know it by heart also. I'm Ruth's mother and have watched her brave struggle to return to full health with great sadness but enormous pride. Her wonderful fiancé has supported her every step of the way and for that her father and I are so grateful.

The ACA supported her through this journey and I am thankful for President Obama's compassion and courage to try and ensure all Americans have access to healthcare. I have a wonderful family, who are all decent, hard-working citizens of this country. I know Americans are good people and hope that with their efforts, common sense will prevail. This is not a political issue. It is one of humanity.

Zip code 43085

Debra's story

A physician reveals the importance of the ACA to the health care system and her own family.

I have been in independent contractor physician for 30 years. As such, I have always had to purchase health insurance for myself and my family. Before the ACA, I would commonly change insurance companies if the premium escalated. However, I injured my back and that became a pre-existing condition. Before the ACA, I was trapped with Anthem coverage which had a premium expected to escalate to $1400 per month for my family. If I changed insurance companies, there would be a rider not covering this condition. This was unsustainable.

I campaigned for President Obama based primarily on this issue. Since we have been covered under the ACA, we have changed insurance companies several times. Our premiums are not nearly as high as the projected Anthem premiums. While I agree that the ACA is not perfect, and could use some tweaking, I beg you not to repeal it. Replacing it will be difficult if you try to keep the "good stuff" without the mandates.

In 2015, District 12 had 10,000 consumers receiving subsidies for the ACA. In Ohio 157,000 people are receiving subsidies through the ACA. Expanded Medicaid covers 692,000 Ohioans. 97,000 Ohio residents under 26 are able to be covered on their parents' insurance. 946,000 residents of Ohio stand to lose their health insurance if the ACA is repealed or replaced. This will present an enormous financial loss to health care organizations, who do not turn people away who are uninsured or unable to pay. Patients who are unable to get preventative care end up in the emergency department, a very expensive and inefficient way to provide health care. They are also sicker and have poorer outcomes than people who receive regular medical care. In the long run, this is much more expensive, and patients and their families suffer needlessly.

Zip code 43017

Ruth's story

A life on hold due to chronic illness. Uncertainty over whether treatment will remain affordable makes the struggle worse.

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December 2014 was one of the best months of my life. I landed a new job and a literary agent, and my boyfriend of eight years finally proposed to me. I was looking forward to 2015. My fiance and I started planning our wedding and hoped to buy a house shortly after where we could start our family. That was not what ended up happening, however.

Instead, I began what would end up being a 2 and a half year (and counting) battle with chronic nerve pain. For the better part of a year, I was unable to get a full-night's sleep, use my hands for basic everyday tasks, or walk. I couldn't go out in the sun because the heat made my skin burn, or go out in the snow because of painful cold-induced lesions on my fingers and toes. Because of my health, my fiance and I were forced to cancel our wedding and postpone all other immediate plans for the future.

I have spent most of the last two years feeling hopeless and scared that I wouldn't recover, but thanks to the Affordable Healthcare Act, I was never afraid that I would be denied coverage because of a "pre-existing condition." Now that the healthcare law faces repeal, I have to deal with the added stress of possibly being denied health insurance on top of the struggles I am faced with every day. To make a full recovery, I have to attend regular physical therapy sessions which are expensive even with insurance. Without insurance, my fiance and I would likely have to dip into the money we've been saving for our first home together to pay for it.

I'm happy to say that I am better than I was in 2015, but I still have a long way to go. I still want that wedding, and the house, and most of all, I want to start a family with my fiance. I think I would make a pretty good mom, and I know my fiance would make an amazing dad. That dream is the only thing that keeps me going. It's the reason I spend 2 hours per day doing therapy. It's the reason I'm telling my story now.

But if the ACA is repealed without a common sense replacement that protects the sick and uninsured, I will likely have to put my dream on hold once again.

Zip code 43085

Elizabeth's story

Access to affordable health care changed my life for the better.

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In January of 2016, I signed up for a plan through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace in Ohio. I had just started doing some independent contracting, so I needed to find a plan on my own, without my parents or my employer, for the first time. For the previous few years, my insurance coverage was spotty because my employment after college was spotty. Like a lot of young women, the only real health care I was getting was from Planned Parenthood during my annual checkup, or when I went to get a Depo shot every three months.

When I got an ACA plan, though, it was part of a New Year's Resolution. I was 27, 380 lbs, unhappy, and it hurt to do much of anything. I didn't want to live like that anymore.

I started seeing a general practitioner. He diagnosed me with prediabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and referred me to a specialist to address my sleep apnea. By actually seeking care for all of these things that I'd been living with, by having health insurance I could rely on, I finally managed to make my health (and myself) a priority. By January of 2017, I had lost just over 100 lbs thanks to hard work, restful sleep, focus, and prescription medication to help me manage existing conditions.

In the fall I went backpacking in Mohican State Forest, something I could not have done in the years before. I move more. I'm happy. The ACA helped me do the hard work I needed to do to live a longer, fuller life.

Representative Tiberi, please agree to hold a town hall so we can tell you our stories and voice our concerns. We want to help you help us.

Zip code 43214

Laura's story

The ACA saved my small business.

Seven years ago, when I found myself jobless for a second time in the midst of the Great Recession, I decided to do something I never imagined myself doing: I stopped job hunting and started a business.

For the last seven years, I’ve been a very happy freelance writer and consultant. I love what I do and have been able to support myself and my family. But before the ACA was passed, I almost gave it up because I lost my healthcare.

always thought of myself as a pretty healthy person. I was a runner, I took care of myself, and didn’t have any major health concerns. So when one of my test results from my annual physical came back as “abnormal,” I wasn’t all that worried. My doctor wasn’t worried, either. He told me that 80-90% of women would have an abnormal test result at some point in their lives, and most of the time it turned out to be nothing. He told me to come back in six months for a recheck, and keep taking care of myself otherwise.

I put the test result out of my mind and went on with my life. But two months later, I got a letter from my insurance company informing me that they were cancelling my coverage at the end of the year when my policy was up. I was irritated, but not panicked. I went back to shopping around on the private market, certain that somebody else would offer me coverage.

Nobody did. One questionable test result – a result my doctor told me 80-90% of women could expect to see over the course of their lifetimes – was enough to knock me out of the private health insurance market.

Eventually, I managed to get a catastrophic only plan. It had a $10,000 deductible with no coverage for any preventative care. It was also more than twice as expensive as my old plan, and explicitly excluded any kind of gynecological care. So I was sort of covered. 90% of me, anyway. If something truly awful happened.

That changed when the ACA was passed. After ACA, my insurance company had to cover all of me, not just some of me. They couldn’t kick me off my plan or hike my rates based on a test result. And I had access to preventative care that I often neglected under my old plan, when I had to pay cash up front for everything.

These protections are critical for self-employed people and small business owners like me. If I lost my health insurance again, I wouldn’t be able to keep my business open. I would need to find a job – any job – that offered health benefits, even if it meant giving up an occupation I love and taking a significant cut in pay. This would not just be a loss for me personally. It would be a loss for my family, for my clients and for the sub-contractors whom I employ.

So today I am asking my legislators to please consider the needs of the self-employed and small business owners when making decisions about healthcare. To repeal the ACA without a workable and equitable replacement would be a disaster for many of us on the private market. So please: keep the ACA in place, and keep my business open.

Zip code 43065

Mindy's story

Diabetes made it hard to offer my employees insurance and left me trapped with none until the ACA saved my life.

The Affordable Care Act saved my life. I am a Type 1 diabetic and have had diabetes since the age of 5, for 56 years.

When I first opened my company in 1990, and started to hire employees, I wanted to get them health insurance.  I started to look for coverage around 1992, when our business was growing, and we had employees that needed healthcare from our company (their spouses' companies didn't provide this, or they were single).  When I started to search for it, many companies would not even quote because I, as the owner, had a pre-existing illness.  I offered my staff the opportunity to get health insurance on their own, and my company would pay for ½ of the premium.

After several years of this type of benefit, we were getting bigger, and I tried again to get insurance. We were again turned down, with the same answer.  I then took myself out of the coverage pool, and got an insurance company to quote.  When they did, however, they made a mistake and had me in the quote.  Thankfully, Ohio's law at that time stated that if a company quoted on an insurance coverage policy, they were bound by that quote and could not back out, although they tried.  Every year I was worried that this insurance would drop my company because of my condition, so it held us bound to the first and only company that made a mistake and had to cover us, no matter how they raised their premiums.

I had to close my business in 2009 because of the horrible recession.  My husband also worked in my company, so we were both unemployed and without insurance.  This was pre-Obama care, and I was getting quite a few phone calls about insurance coverage (the insurance brokers stalk the unemployment lists online).  All I had to say, when they first called and identified themselves, was that I was a Type 1 diabetic.  Most of them hung up without another word.

Only one told me that if they did quote, it would be somewhere between a $2,000 - $5,000 premium per month, but they wouldn’t quote on it.  Both of us were on unemployment so these costs were more than we had every month to spend on our mortgage and food.  In addition, my pharmaceuticals, including insulin and insulin pump supplies, cost around $700 per month.  Our only decision was to not have insurance. 

As my friend, who has studied to be an actuary, went over all the figures with me, she suggested that I pay for my pharmacy needs out of pocket, which was less expensive than insurance.  She said that Ohio's hospitals cannot reject any person from major medical care if I or my husband needed hospitalization.  Lots of tears and lots of thinking only gave us one option -- no insurance until the Affordable Care Act was passed!  I even had some friends and neighbors who were supplying me with some pump supplies so we didn't have to buy them.  We barely survived.  

When the Affordable Care Act was approved, I signed on almost right away. While it was a bit difficult to get through by phone, I finally managed to get someone.  They were so kind, caring, and helpful. We got a tax abatement, which made our premium affordable.  

At first, I paid $182.09 per month; then $366.09; then $419.09. Both increases were because my husband had some slight raises. In 2017, I will be paying $445.28 for the same plan and same tax credit. That is only a 6% increase.

I owe President Obama and those who worked so hard on the Affordable Care Plan. I will do whatever I must to make sure there is always an option for healthcare for ALL AMERICANS, NO MATTER THEIR INCOME OR HEALTH!

It is important to know that in Ohio there are over 927,000 diabetics.  Our elected officials in Ohio have to realize that they cannot let us go uninsured, or without coverage that helps us buy pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment like the insulin pump and pump supplies. These are necessities that keep us alive. There are no alternatives. Our life is in their hands.

Zip code 43066

Julie's story

I grew up with no insurance and now only have good insurance because of ACA.

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I grew up worrying about health care. My family did not have any health insurance for 10 years, from when I was 6 until I was 16. We had plenty of savings, and were well off in other ways. I went to the doctor and dentist and we paid cash. But in 3rd grade, my mom got very sick. She was in the hospital for a long time and needed lots of expensive medical care. The savings went quickly—and the bills came for years. Suddenly we were not so well off anymore. I was an asthmatic child, and when I got pneumonia in middle school, it got bad. I couldn’t walk up stairs. My lips turned purple. My pediatrician offered to see us every day so I could avoid the hospital due to the cost—a medical decision made based on how much it would cost. I still have a scar in my lungs from that infection. Later, my mom went back to work to get health insurance for all of us. She has since beaten a new illness, stage iv cancer, with the help of that insurance. She still works at 71, and it breaks my heart to hear her talk about choosing medications based on the copays. Even doing that, between the two of them my parents would pay thousands of dollars a month out of pocket just for maintenance prescription drugs. They just switched to a cheaper plan than her employer provides, in addition to Medicare, which was only possible because of the pre-existing conditions clause and the mandate that insurers accept all applicants.

My husband, son and I only have insurance because of provisions in the ACA as well. My husband works full time at a large university in Columbus, but they did not offer their insurance plan to people in his job category until the ACA mandated that they do. Because of the ACA, we can pay monthly premiums to join a good health care plan through an employer. I am part of the ever-growing “gig economy” as a work-at-home parent who freelances, so a family insurance plan is vital to us. Sometimes I wonder what might have been different if we had access to insurance exchanges as a kid. Would my parents have kept the house they owned for 20 years? Would I have been completely on my own paying for college? The idea of replacing any aspect of health insurance with savings plans doesn’t make sense to me. Almost everyone is one major illness away from bankruptcy, even with six-figure savings. I don’t have very much money left to save each month anyway, let alone to save specifically for health care.

Zip code 43085