Activists in Action: Advocating for affordable health care

March 16, 2017
Bread members, like Emily Kousma Huestis, right, have been showing up at town halls and scheduling meetings with members of Congress to advocate for affordable health care – and they are  sharing personal stories to get their point across.

By Emily Kousma Huestis

Why do I advocate? I’m an American, a wife, and mother raising two little citizens. I advocate because my faith and because my family’s life and many of our friends’ lives have been affected by the lack of access to affordable, quality health care. Poor health is a leading cause of hunger and poverty in the United States. For me, this issue is personal.

  • My mom has a chronic autoimmune disease.
  • My friends have children born with complex health needs.
  • Before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a family member was stuck in a dead-end job for more than a decade because it was the only way she could get health insurance since she had a pre-existing condition.
  • The two little citizens I’m raising will be women someday, and before the ACA, it was legal for health insurance companies to discriminate based on gender.
  • My state alone has over 700,000 people with insurance because Ohio opted to take the Medicaid expansion.

Last month, about 40 neighbors and I met with our congressman U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH-07) to discuss our concerns about plans to hastily repeal the ACA. We came with stories and data to support our position. Though we were listened to, I don’t believe we were heard.

So, I scheduled a follow-up meeting with the congressman’s district director to continue the conversation.

Fourteen of us presented more stories in support of the ACA. A businesswoman shared that without the implementation of the ACA, she and her husband were looking at bankruptcy (despite the profitability of their businesses) because as a cancer survivor, their family couldn’t afford the insurance premiums. The ACA made their health care affordable.

Again, I’m not all that sure if we were heard, but I know that it won’t stop us from using our voices and speaking up. I mailed a thank you note to the congressman to let him know that I’ll be in touch because our conversation will continue. The issue of affordable health care is just too important not to keep talking about.it

Emily Kousma Huestis is a Bread member who lives in Ashland, Ohio.

Poor health is a leading cause of hunger and poverty in the United States.

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