New Jersey is fortunate that its two Senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, have been vocally opposed to Republican attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. With the Better Care Reconciliation Act currently being revised, it is important that Senators Booker, Menendez, and their colleagues hear from their constituents, reminding them what is at stake, and not to give up.
If the BCRA passes the Senate, it will go back to the House of Representatives, where Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ 4) has voiced his opposition to the ACA and voted to repeal it on numerous occasions. Mr. Smith has represented the 4th District since the Reagan Administration, but has not held any kind of public forum or town hall in almost 25 years.
In preparation for a town hall event we organized without Mr. Smith, we spoke to two of his constituents, Kevin and Dave Dixson, from Wall, NJ. Kevin, a high school student, has a chronic condition, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which requires frequent expensive treatments. If the ACA were repealed, Dave and his wife would have few options to provide their son with the care he needs. To Kevin, his treatments are the difference between skateboarding with his friends and crippling pain that prevents him from walking down the stairs.
Mr. Smith voted against the AHCA in May, citing its cuts to the Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid may not help the Dixsons however, and Republican proposals could jeopardize coverage for pre-existing conditions, including the arthritis Kevin will be fighting the rest of his life.
Dave and many others who support the ACA acknowledge that it is not perfect. Dave says he wants people to “stop talking about repealing and start talking about improving.”