Tuesday, February 14, 2017

#ProtectOurCare, a Guest Post from Seminary Intern Bridget Wendell

My name is Bridget Wendell and I am the Spring Seminary Intern at the Office of Public Witness.  I am excited to be working with the OPW to advocate for immigrant and refugee rights as well as domestic justice issues.  Although I am a seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary, the National Capital Semester for Seminarians through Wesley Seminary has brought me to DC for the semester to learn about the intersection of faith and politics.  I feel fortunate to be in Washington at this critical time to advocate for hospitality, acceptance and the gospel message. 
I am personally invested in current issues that are on the President’s docket.  Recently, I enrolled in health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.  As a graduate student who typically works three jobs during the semester, I still had a hard time paying for the school sanctioned insurance.  In trying to steward my money well and avoid taking out student loans, I struggled to pay my premiums until I realized I was eligible for the Affordable Care Act. 
When I returned to school in the fall, I was able to switch over to ACA insurance.  With my new insurance, my premiums dropped and I was able to go back to my long-time doctors, which weren’t covered under my school insurance.  It was a relief to be able to get the services that I needed without being afraid of gigantic bills arriving after visiting the doctor. 
I am not alone in my dependence on the ACA for health insurance.  Thirty million people could lose their health coverage and twelve million people who qualify for financial assistance will no longer have affordable healthcare if ACA is repealed.  Senior’s prescription drug costs will rise and many African Americans, Latinos and Veterans will return to being uninsured, which would further exacerbate the racial wealth gap. 
Recipients of private insurance will be affected as well. Insurance companies will once again be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and women will return to paying higher premiums in the middle of their lives.  Lifetime limits could be re-instituted, making it hard for the sickest people to get care when they need it most, and companies will no longer have to provide coverage for mental  health and substance abuse.  It will no longer be required for companies to provide free preventative services or put premiums towards care instead of profits. 
If a repeal bill is drafted and passed through the House and Senate, the President can sign it into law.  If this happens, as soon as next year we will see major changes for people who buy their own health insurance and get their coverage through Medicaid. 
As a second career seminarian, it was hard for me to leave my job as a public school teacher and the benefits that went along with it.  Being able to enroll in insurance through the ACA has made it easier for me to follow God in my calling.  I am one of the many Americans that will be adversely affected if ACA is repealed.  In order to support efforts to protect the ACA, please join me in taking the following action steps:
1. Meet with Members of Congress or staff of in DC or in district offices to express your concern.
2. Share your story and attend or organize rallies in support of ACA.
3. Share your story on social media with the hashtag #ProtectOurCare. 

4. Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper in support of ACA.