The following is a letter I wrote to Senator Pat Toomey regarding the affect of the ACA on my family. I forwarded copies of it to Senator Bob Casey and Representative Pat Meehan.
Senator Pat Toomey
248 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Toomey,
I’d like to let you know how the repeal of The Affordable Care Act would affect me. My husband and I are employees of a small business, a dairy farming operation direct-marketing our own milk and value-added products. We graduated from college in the mid-aughts and suffered through the economic downturn, spent five years of our nine year marriage living apart so we could both be employed, and have student loan debt.
The ACA allowed my husband to join me on the dairy farm where I’ve worked for eight years and am co-owner of the herd. Over the past three years, we’ve straightened out our finances, got our student loan debt under control, and opened an IRA to plan for our retirement. We live in a small trailer, own one car, and shop at discount grocery stores and local Mennonite food stands. We’ve worked hard for financial stability. Over the past year, we’ve begun discussions about having a child and starting our own business.
Threats to the ACA are threats to our future, Senator, and to the future of small businesses, agriculture, and families. While the ACA is not a perfect bill, many of its provisions have affected me positively.
The Total-Out-Of-Pocket maximums have allowed me to pursue a dangerous career without fear of ruining my family. As the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Pennsylvania dairy farmers, I’ve seen my share of agricultural catastrophes. Between equipment and large animals, every day comes with potential hazards. Will I break a rib getting between two cows who are fighting? Will a blade come loose from the bedding chopper and hit me? Will my hand be broken through miscommunication with someone operating the skidloader? These are realities with which I live every day and I am able to go about my job bravely because I know none of these events would financially destroy my family.
Mandated mental healthcare coverage is also critical. A decade ago, I experienced an unexpected bout with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which left me nearly paralyzed. Two years of therapy and medication covered first by my parents’ health insurance, then my husband’s, saved me. I’ve been medication-free for seven years and use coping strategies to minimize my obsessions. However, I am always aware there is a possibility my health won’t last and am comforted that I will have coverage to pay for expensive treatment, should the need arise.
With discussion of repealing the ACA, my husband and I are left in a state of uncertainty. We’d like to start a family before it’s too late, but don’t want to jeopardize our financial security to do so. We only feel able to have a child because we’re finally stable. We’d like to start our own small business, allowing our boss to take on new workers and increase employment, but fear that an altered healthcare system won’t be able to support our needs. We’d like to continue working in agriculture, but face the stark reality of doing so without high quality healthcare.
We don’t know where our future stands now, but feel unsupported, as a family, as farmers, as participants in the small business economy, by our elected officials.
Sincerely Your Constituent,