Rep. Cooper, state Sen. Yarbro join ‘Protect Our Care’ bus tour stop in Nashville

Rep. Jim Cooper (second from r), state Sen. Jeff Yarbro (third from r) join locals at ‘Protect Our Care’ Nashville stop.

A coalition of groups working to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and preserve the Medicaid program made a stop in Nashville on its nationwide bus tour.

The group was joined by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, local community leaders and Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions at Centennial Park

The event was part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour to educate people on the damage the repeal of the ACA and harmful changes to the Medicaid program would cause-that included a lawsuit signed onto by Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery that would gut protections for Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions.

“The 2,718,800 Tennesseans living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy if a judge sides with Attorney General Slatery, President Trump, and the GOP in their lawsuit,” said the group in a release.

Additionally, group representatives say that 381,000 Tennesseans have been denied access to affordable health coverage through state officials’ refusal to expand Medicaid.

“Now is the time to fight for your right, everyone’s right, to health care. Giant insurance companies should not be allowed to deny us coverage because we were once sick or injured, or have a chronic illness. At stake is your health, and even your life,” said Rep. Cooper.

State Sen. Yarbro said: “What’s at stake right now is whether we’re going to support hospitals across the state; what’s at stake right now is whether everyone’s insurance prices are going to go up; what’s at stake right now is whether we are going to keep 200,000 Tennesseans in the Medicaid gap uninsured simply because of politics; what’s at stake right now is whether people with pre-existing conditions will be able to keep their insurance. The stakes could not be higher and it’s time to put politics aside to protect our care.”

Kathleen Jones, a local mother whose child has a pre-existing condition, said: “Caring for a child with a heart condition is difficult enough, but worrying about you are going pay for her care makes it unbearable.”

According to Jones, the Affordable Care Act has helped to take away some of the worry, but If the ACA is repealed, there is an enormous chance that her baby will not be covered.

“If we had to pay and try to cover everything out of pocket or upfront, we would simply be homeless,” she said. “That’s it. There is really no other option.”

Tennessee Air Force veteran and terminal cancer patient Kelly Gregory gave a passionate speech saying: “If the ACA had existed when I was diagnosed with my genetic condition, I would have been able to maintain affordable coverage and could have perhaps caught my breast cancer much earlier. Please let me be the last person to die because of a lack of access to health care.”