Tester protests secret health-care rewrite by sharing Montanans’ stories

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is protesting the secret rewriting of America’s health care system by Senate Republicans.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester joined the growing political chorus protesting a small group of Republican senators who are rewriting the American health care system in secret.

“There are 13 senators working behind closed doors on a secret health care bill that could kick thousands of Montanans off their health insurance, put rural hospitals at risk, and force folks in their 50s and 60s to pay more for health care,” Tester said.

Tester said he will give voice to the unheard Montanans throughout the week by publishing their personal health-care testimonials via social media and his website.

Other Democrats made their voices heard Monday on the U.S. Senate floor, where they gave lengthy speeches and made a series of unsuccessful floor motions.

All the protesting senators called on their GOP colleagues to present their proposed health-care bill at open committee hearings, so there can be full consideration of the measure before a Senate vote.

Republicans want to go straight from the secret meetings to a floor vote next week. Democrats cannot stop that from happening.

For his part, Tester said he will share “real stories from Montanans to highlight what’s at risk” if the senators raise health insurance costs, rescind coverage from tens of thousands of Montanans and reduce access to quality health care.

Tester said the Montanans who have contacted him about the repeal of the Affordable Care Act want to share their stories so that others will understand that the new legislation could substantially increase costs or deny coverage for millions of Americans, particularly those with pre-existing conditions.

“To ensure Montanans have their voices heard during these secret meetings, I am going to share firsthand stories from folks who will be impacted by a deadly rewrite of America’s health care system,” Tester said in a written release.

In December, Tester launched a webpage for Montanans to submit their personal stories about #WhatsAtRisk if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act. Tester has received over 3,600 pieces of health care correspondence from Montanans.

Tester will share these stories on his Facebook Page and during a speech on the Senate floor.

The first story was released Monday and featured Justin Anthony in Missoula. Here is what Anthony had to say:

“After a minor heart incident in 2004, from which I completely recovered two months later, I was denied health insurance. They used every incident in my medical record to justify not covering a person who went to the doctor and took care of himself. I could not afford any medical intervention on several conditions that continued to worsen. In 2013 I was involved in a vehicle crash and grossly self-underinsured. I am still paying St Pats the equivalent of a new F250 every month. Nine years after my first denials I was insured through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and managed to catch up on some of my health issues. Among other things my back was too far gone and needed a double fusion. This year I had total knee replacement. I have endured years of pain and could not work. ACA has changed everything and I am returning to an active, productive life again.”

The House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act last month, and a recent nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office report reported that the bill will:

  • Cause 23 million more Americans to be uninsured in the next decade.
  • Force seniors, Montanans nearing retirement, and people with pre-existing conditions, like diabetes and high blood pressure, to pay higher premiums.
  • Cut Medicaid by $834 billion.
  • Force one in six Americans to live in areas with unstable insurance markets by 2020.