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Opinion: President Trump Plays Politics With My Family’s Life

Halfway through his speech accepting the Republican nomination for president, President Donald Trump pledged that the Republican Party “will always, and very strongly, protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” These remarks, bolstered by the fact that dozens of North Carolinians are dying each day from the coronavirus, fall flat. Now, as Mike Pence visits Raleigh today, all I can think of is how this administration has consistently failed North Carolinians on health care.

As I write this, the President and his lawyers are in court arguing that insurance companies can reject the coverage my family survives on due to pre-existing conditions. While this election may seem like typical politics to some North Carolinians, for my family it can mean the difference between life and death.

My pregnancy started out like every other, but then things quickly changed. Because of a rare complication called HELLP syndrome, one moment I was in the hospital bed talking with my husband and the next I was whisked away to the operating room for an emergency C-section. My twin daughters Emma and Sara entered the world at just 28 weeks old, weighing 1 pound, 9 ounces; and 2 pounds, respectively.  

Emma and Sara have grown to be extraordinarily independent children. None of this would be possible, though, without the assistance we receive through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Due to Emma’s premature birth and ongoing complex medical needs and disabilities, our medical costs the last six years have totaled more than $4 million. My husband and I pay $19,000 a year in private insurance — the formula for Emma’s feeding tube alone costs $100 per day, which her Medicaid covers along with medical supplies and in-home nursing.

Before the ACA, my daughters’ premature birth would be considered a pre-existing condition. Many medical issues that later arose — epilepsy, developmental delays, or Emma’s respiratory support — would not be covered by insurance. Without the protections of the ACA, we would have filed for medical bankruptcy.

Only former Vice President Joe Biden has committed to making sure Emma and Sara’s chance to live like any 6-year-old is a right, not a privilege. The Biden administration would help give North Carolinians care while President Trump and Republicans in our state legislature continue to play politics with our health care.

We are not the only families impacted by President Trump’s refusal to fight for the health care of all Americans. His inability to lead our nation through the coronavirus pandemic has left North Carolinians vulnerable. This week alone our state saw the single highest jump in positive cases with 2,585 North Carolinians testing positive. It didn’t have to be this way, and giving President Trump four more years to dictate health-care policy will only lead to more deaths and more despair.

We need to return to the leadership our country experienced under President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden. They made it a priority to fight for a health-care system that allows my family to live a life of normalcy. Enacting a public health insurance option like Medicare will continue this success. Expanding coverage to more Americans — regardless of gender, race, income, sexual orientation, or zip code — will lead to affordable, quality care for all American families.

The Affordable Care Act made it possible for me to worry about Emma and Sara’s screen time instead of how we will pay our medical bills. With only a few short weeks to go before Election Day, the ongoing threats to my daughters’ health care continue to weigh heavily on my mind.

I trust Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to fight for our children, and I am thrilled for Little Lobbyists to endorse them for President and Vice-President of the United States. I want to keep Emma and Sara living happy, fulfilling lives like every other 6-year-old, so the choice could not be easier—Joe Biden gets my vote.

Stacy Staggs is the director of community engagement for Little Lobbyists. Follow her and her organization on Twitter at @StacyStaggs3 and @LittleLobbyists.

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