4 moms rejoiced when the Obamacare repeal bill failed. Now it's back, and they're furious.

Angela Eilers wanted to believe the push to upend the Affordable Care Act was finally over.

While "skinny repeal," the GOP's last attempt to gut the law, failed in July, she sent a handwritten thank-you note to every senator that voted against it. She saved the most elaborate and effusive for John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski, the senators who broke with their own caucus to vote the bill down. Eilers was relieved for her daughter Myka, who was born with pulmonary stenosis, a congenital heart defect that required open-heart surgery to treat, and for her family, which she says can afford private market insurance thanks to the law.  

Still, she couldn't relax.


"I never let myself think that they weren’t going to stop," Eilers says. "I knew that they wouldn't stop until they got this done."

Her fears have come true with the most recent GOP push to replace the ACA. Eilers finds herself feeling disheartened and, perhaps most ominously, "defeated."

"Yesterday was the first day that it hit me really really hard," she admits.

With Senate Republicans taking another shot at Obamacare, many parents of children with chronic medical conditions are at their wits' end, trying to cope with having to fight, once again, to preserve their access to treatment.

What began as resolve has, for many, evolved into a growing sense of powerlessness — and anger.

"If these people lived on a pediatric cancer floor for weeks, months, or longer, they would reconsider their positions on health care because it is gut-wrenching," says Karen Lee Orosco, whose daughter was diagnosed with embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, when she was 15 months old. Even with an intact ACA, Orosco had to crowdfund her daughter's surgery and is incensed that the new bill penalizes her home state of California with deep funding cuts.

Kate Greene, whose son Eddie suffers from severe hemophilia A, worries about returning to a time when those with the disease had to change jobs and move across state lines to afford, or even receive, coverage. Despite having visited her member of Congress with her family, she now makes 10 calls to them a day.

"I want Eddie to know I did everything I could to protect him," she says.

The most recent proposal, dubbed "Graham-Cassidy," includes drastic cuts to both Medicaid and the ACA's subsidies.

An NPR analysis found that the bill would allow states to permit insurers to omit the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefits from plans and deny or significantly upcharge consumers with pre-existing conditions.

The potential new law could also permit plans to bring back lifetime caps on coverage, a major fear for parents whose children have already exceeded them.

Frustration at the proposed cuts extends beyond the parents of young children.

Pat Nelson, whose 33-year-old son suffers from an aggressive form of brain cancer, says that calling her senator, Marco Rubio, which she does daily, feels like "hitting my head against a brick." She and her retired husband help her son cover his already sky-high medical bills, which she worries will explode if the bill becomes law.

"We would have to come up with more to pay for his healthcare," she says.  I'm not sure how we will be able to do that.

The fate of the bill continues to hang by a thread, as the key swing votes from July have yet to commit one way or another.

While Collins is seen to be leaning against the measure, neither McCain nor Murkowski have given more than a few clues about their vote.

On Sep. 20, a spokesperson for Mitch McConnell's office announced the majority leader's intent to hold a vote soon, leading some observers to believe the holdouts could be convinced to support the new proposal.

Until then, many say they have no choice but to keep fighting for their kids, exhausted as they may be.

Despite her despair over the bill's return, Eilers was buoyed when Jimmy Kimmel, a fellow "heart dad," used his opening monologue to rail against the bill Tuesday and accused bill co-author Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy of lying "right to his face."

"He was angry, like us, like the rest of us," she says. "He was angry that this could impact his child. And I appreciated that."

Next week could bring relief or more fury.

In the meantime, Eilers plans to keep sending her representative a picture of Myka every day until the bill is either dead or law.

After all, she wonders, what else is there to do?

True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Richard Desmick / TikTok

Over the weekend, an estimated thousands of people ran 2.23 miles to show their support for Ahmaud Arbery, a former high school football player and avid jogger. Arbery was shot and killed in February near Brunswick, Georgia after being pursued in a truck by a former policeman and his son who claimed he resembled someone responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood.

Keep Reading Show less
File:TIFF 2019 kristen stewart (48701274962).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Of the 25 actors that have been nominated for an Oscar for playing an LGBTQ character, a grand total of zero of them have been openly queer. The debate on whether or not only gay actors can play gay roles has many sides and nuances. After Darren Criss, who is straight, won an Emmy for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Criss vowed he would never play another gay man because he didn't want to be "another straight boy taking a gay man's role." Actor Ben Whishaw, who is gay, feels otherwise. "I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn't be defined only by what we are," Whishaw said. Recently, Kristen Stewart also weighed in on some of the complexities around the issue.

Variety recently asked Stewart about the importance of gay actors playing gay characters. Stewart acknowledged the complexity of the issue. "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it's such a gray area," Stewart told Variety.

Keep Reading Show less