Hanover County is no stranger to making a political statement with signs and petitions. Residential and rural areas are spotted with “No Western Bypass,” “Keep Montpelier Rural,” and bright yellow and blue Tea Party signs.
New signs are popping up in Hanover protesting the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act and against the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) . These signs are blown up versions of postcards created by members of the Hanover County Democratic Committee and sent to Congressman Rob Wittman, and President Donald Trump. These postcards share personal stories of Hanover residents who have been positively impacted by the ACA and can’t afford to lose the coverage.
“Congressmen should repeal their own healthcare before they take it away from a cancer kid,” reads Beaverdam resident Deb Jacobs’ postcard sign.
In 2013 Jacobs’ young daughter was diagnosed with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of muscle tissue cancer. Her daughter’s treatment would have been stopped before she was fully treated under their employer health care, which had a million dollar cap.
Jacobs said that the ACA helped her daughter get the treatment she needed, as well as further clinical trials that would not have been treated under their health care.
“Really for cancer, for kids, everything is a clinical trial,” Jacobs said. “So lots of insurance companies were denying treatment for kids because they said it was experimental.”
Jacobs’ daughter passed a few years later, but not after a strong fight.
“She was so brave. They’re all so brave and I think that if people just knew how much they wanted to live, they would help and see that this is the right thing to do,” Jacobs said.
Over two years the Jacobs’ medical bill was close to three million dollars, Jacobs said. Should the ACA be repealed without adequate replacement, Jacobs said, more families would endure what her family experienced.
“We can’t do that to these kids,” Jacobs said. “Cancer is hard enough. They need our support; we should never take health insurance away from someone just because they’re poor.”
“You cannot ask a doctor to walk through the door and tell parents that they’ve lost their insurance and need to go home or put up hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Jacobs continued.
Ashland resident Natalie Hartwig wrote a postcard that became a sign about her experience as a parent of an adult dependent. Hartwig is a retired nurse and worked many years for Medicare.
“I know that without family support, adult dependents quickly become wards of the state,” Hartwig said. “They end up being warehoused and getting substandard care.”
“Many of us feel the repeal of the ACA and the diminishment of social services aimed at that fragile portion of the population is heartless and evil and it’s a deliberate malignant intent to maintain the lower class,” Hartwig said.
Hartwig said that changes in Medicaid could also result in the loss of small rural hospitals.
“If you live in an isolated rural area and you have a heart attack you better hope you have good burial insurance because you’re not going to live to make it to a hospital,” Hartwig said.
In a March 13, 2017 Washington Post article Wittman was quoted in opposition to the proposed AHCA. He again announced his opposition to AHCA in a press release the following day, stating “this bill is not consistent with the repeal and replace principles for which I stand.”
“I do believe that we can enact meaningful health care reforms that put the patient and health care provider back at the center of our health care system,” the release continues.
“This does not change the fact that we need to repeal Obamacare, as I have voted to do.”
At this time, Wittman’s office stated that he stands by his statement on the AHCA.