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State lawmakers can protect 8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I was able to get health insurance for the first time in my life. Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer — one of the most difficult cancers to treat. After enduring many grueling rounds of chemotherapy and multiple major surgeries (due to complications), I was extremely lucky to survive.

I thank God and healthcare advocates that I am still alive to watch my children grow up. Without the passing of the ACA, I would now almost certainly be dead. I had been denied coverage for years because having a c-section meant I had a pre-existing condition.

I’m not the only one. Eight million Floridians have a pre-existing condition. With the ACA under threat from an out-of-state lawsuit now in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, coverage for millions of Floridians with pre-existing conditions is at risk.

This is a non-partisan health insurance crisis that our state legislature has the power to fix. State Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, and Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, have co-sponsored legislation that would make sure that folks like myself, with pre-existing conditions, would not be unfairly priced out of healthcare even if God forbid, the ACA were repealed.

While the Florida Legislature passed a bill last session that requires health plans for Floridians with pre-existing conditions, it did so with a major loophole that puts no limits on how much insurers can charge for those 8 million Floridians, like myself, with pre-existing conditions. This legislation was a fake stopgap that also allows the proliferation of cheap short-term plans that don’t have to follow insurance laws or provide real protections.

Good’s and Cruz’s legislation -- HB 1293 and SB 1724 -- which currently hasn’t been given a hearing, would close the loophole and ensure that no one can be discriminated against with varying premiums just because of their health status. It would protect the healthcare of millions of Floridians, even if the ACA is repealed by the Supreme Court. The ACA isn’t perfect, but it saved my life. My children would be motherless and my husband a widower without my healthcare. I hope that our state legislators can get behind this bill and make sure that even if the ACA is repealed, that families like mine aren’t put back into the life-and-death scenario, where we are forced to choose between health care and bankruptcy, or sometimes given no choice for care at all.

Take action now to protect pre-existing conditions and let your voice be heard.

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