Remembering Why Health Care Reform Matters: Meet Erin

In the wake of the failure, so far,  by Senate Republicans to pass a healthcare reform bill, President Donald Trump again said that allowing the Affordable Care Act to stay in place and collapse under its own weight might be the best GOP course of action (before later urging senators to press on). Other Republicans agree with the president that allowing Americans to see the full extent of the damage of Obamacare is the best way to get meaningful healthcare reform passed. Seemingly lost in the current congressional debate, however,  is the damage President Barack Obama’s signature achievement already has done,  and where will the debate go if Democrats regain control of Congress in 2018? Media Trackers recently spoke with a Wisconsin small business person who is eager to share the story of what the ACA has meant to her family and their business. Meet Erin.

Erin and her husband, Mike, are small business owners, an automotive repair shop, in Kenosha. They have a 13-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old-son. Erin and Mike own an automotive repair shop with seven employees. In a recent interview with Media Trackers, Erin highlighted the challenges the ACA has presented for them as business owners and as a family:

“We have been impacted in pretty much every way President Obama said we wouldn’t be impacted. He told us that we wouldn’t lose our doctor…we lost our doctor. He told us we could keep our insurance…I wasn’t allowed tor re-up my insurance plan because it didn’t meet the Obamacare mandates.  And then he said my premiums would go down. Guess what: again, the opposite happened and my premiums skyrocketed since Obamacare passed.”

Erin says before Obamacare their employees didn’t need a group health plan because they were able to utilize private marketplace. After Obamacare:

They either had their own individual plans or because there was no mandate, our younger, healthier employees didn’t have insurance. After Obamacare, some of our employees needed insurance because of the mandates. We were able to form a group plan, which was high deductible. We cover 50% for the employees. The cost was higher than what we had been paying for our family but not outrageous. Since then, our insurance rates skyrocketed.

We went from our family plan went from $900 a month to $1,100 a month and we no longer have it because it was going to $1,500 a month. We try to do good by our employees and pay them well and offer them health insurance because they needed it. The cost for our health insurance and our employees insurance; that affects our bottom line. That affects raises and reinvestment in our business and the rates we can pay back our loans.

While Erin and Mike are frustrated with Congressional Republicans’ inability to repeal and replace Obamacare so far, she says the lessons its failure teach should be a grim reminder of the dangers of putting Democrats in control of the health care issue again. She says that starts with Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said recently that Democrats are willing to work with Republicans to improve Obamacare. Many read that as Schumer admitting it’s a failure. “At least he’s admitting it’s a failure. Tammy Baldwin still has her head in the sand and still believes Obamacare is great and still hasn’t come to the realization it’s a failure and is hurting her constituents,” Erin said.

Erin and Mike’s experience is hardly unique and underscores the real life urgency for the need for health care reform. And Erin believes it also illustrates the dangers of giving Democrats another chance at it, regardless of Republican struggles on the issue to date.


You can hear our interview with Erin here: