Local woman says Senate health care bill could hurt her family, others on Medicaid

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - The U.S. Senate is preparing to vote on a health care plan that will significantly roll back expansion on Medicaid.

The Senate plan to repeal and replace Obamacare calls for extensive rollbacks of the expansion of Medicaid. It would also put federal funding limits on the program.

If that passes, it could affect hundreds of thousands of Ohioans. Cleveland 19 spoke with a local woman who says it would greatly affect her family.

Jeanetta Russell of Cleveland Heights is thankful for all of the help she can get caring for her mom Rosie, who has dementia.

"Just to keep my mom with me -- and for me every day is a blessing at 92 -- would cost us over $1,000 to get her medication every month," Russell said, holding up a large bag of medications.

Most of that medication is now covered by Medicare and Medicaid.

That's not all the program provides for Rosie. She goes to adult daycare at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging several days a week and gets a sitter when Russell is at work. Russell worries about how the new health care bill will affect her family, and other working class families struggling to make ends meet.

"I think it's sinful what these people are doing and there's no way it should be allowed to pass," Russell said. "Maybe there was something to tweak, but I don't think we have to throw the baby out with the bath water. I think we tweak and fix whatever is wrong and make it better."

She says if this bill passes, it will bring a tremendous burden on her family, not to mention other families supporting elderly loved ones and those who depend on government assistance.

"What are we saying to these people in this country? 'You don't matter.' And I'm sorry, I think it's sinful, I really do," Russell said.

The Senate bill maintains Obamacare's ban on allowing insurers to charge higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions.

So who would benefit? Younger Americans could pay less for coverage, and healthy Americans could buy less expensive plans that cover fewer services.

Republican U.S. Senator Rob Portman's office sent Cleveland 19 this statement on the Senate's health care bill:

"As I've said previously, the Affordable Care Act is not working for many Ohio families and small businesses.  My goal is to create a more workable system that lowers the cost of coverage, provides access to quality care, and protects the most vulnerable in our society.  There are some promising changes to reduce premiums in the individual insurance market, but I continue to have real concerns about the Medicaid policies in this bill, especially those that impact drug treatment at a time when Ohio is facing an opioid epidemic.

Democrat U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown is against the Senate health care bill. His office sent the following information to Cleveland 19:

"Brown has worked with members of both parties to secure federal resources and address the opioid crisis in Ohio communities. In May, Brown criticized President Trump's proposed budget for cutting or maintaining current levels of federal funding for various programs working to address the opioid epidemic, even as opioid overdose deaths continue to rise."

On Sunday, June 25, 2017 at 10:30 a.m., Sen. Brown is hosting an event with the Northeast Ohio Advocates called "Standing with Northeast Ohioans Against Healthcare Bill that Undermines Efforts to Combat Opioid Epidemic." It will be at the St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland.

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