Collins must protect our health care

Some Mainers say Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court comes down to two choices for senators: support President Donald Trump or don’t support President Trump.

I am not one of those people. This decision is far greater than any president or political party. It is a matter of life or death.

My 39-year-old son and millions of other Americans could die if Sen. Susan Collins and other senators make the wrong choice on Judge Kavanaugh, a staunch opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I came to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with Collins’ staff and share my family’s story as well as why she should reject Kavanaugh’s nomination.

I went to Washington to tell Collins that a vote for Kavanaugh, whose nomination was pre-approved by an extremist group that wants to take away health care and Medicaid from millions of Americans, is a vote to destroy the Affordable Care Act, eliminate the law’s requirements relating to pre-existing conditions, and end the Medicaid expansion that so many families, including mine, are counting on for access to quality, affordable health care.

My son suffers from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. This condition has drastically changed his life, taking him from a burly logger and heavy equipment operator to a sickly man suffering financial and physical hardships after three surgeries. His medications cost $2,000 a month. He must undergo an infusion every six weeks or else he will die.

At one point, we tried to pay for all his medical bills with our credit cards. We thought about selling our house to pay these bills, but we didn’t because he would have no other place to live.

I’m really concerned about Kavanaugh’s views on the provisions for pre-existing conditions in the health care law. My son isn’t the only one in my household who has a pre-existing health condition. I’m a two-time cancer survivor and my husband, Tom, has diabetes. Tom and I are both fortunate to have health insurance as retired public employees, but what happens to those who don’t have good union jobs?

If confirmed to the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh could decide a legal case like one in Texas that would take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions. These protections, which keep insurance companies from jacking up prices on people who have pre-existing conditions, women, and Americans over the age of 50, are at risk.

The future of vital programs like MaineCare — which makes it possible for over 253,000 Mainers with limited resources to get healthy and stay healthy — is largely dependent on the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. Last month, nearly 70,000 Mainers became eligible for MaineCare because of the Medicaid expansion referendum passed by voters.

Kavanaugh’s views on affordable health care and Medicaid are a threat to our parents and grandparents and other members of Maine’s senior population who rely heavily on MaineCare. Our state’s children are also at risk of not being able to go the doctor or get the medications they need because their parents can’t afford it.

I was overcome with emotion while discussing with Collins’ D.C. staff what’s at stake for these families as well as my own. Health care should be a right for all Americans, not a privilege for the wealthy.

Considering how Maine’s working families would be hurt by having a narrow-minded extremist on the Supreme Court, this decision is too important to rush. Collins needs to see Kavanaugh’s full background before his nomination moves forward, not after. How can any conversations or hearings with Kavanaugh be meaningful if the public and senators have not had a chance to thoughtfully review his record? From affordable health care to women’s reproductive health to voting rights, there’s too much at stake for our families for this decision to be rushed.

After examining his full record, Collins must protect the health of Maine families by rejecting Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. Our lives literally depend on it.

Donna Doore, of Augusta, represents Maine House District 85. She is a retiree member of the Maine State Employees Association, Local 1989, of the Service Employees International Union.

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