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Spencer: "Why We Can't Turn Back"

I want to share my story about the horrors of the old health care system and why we can't turn back.

My mother Cathy almost died five years ago, after being misdiagnosed for decades. She was going in and out of doctor’s offices for months with this abscess growing inside her and a blood clot in her leg. Finally she was rushed to the emergency room and eventually diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

It happened at a terrible time for my family. The housing market started to slide and my father’s company stopped providing health insurance to its employees. For 18 months we were on COBRA coverage, but two years ago we had to buy a new policy. My parents were denied private insurance coverage because of my mom’s preexisting condition. Faced with the prospect of going without insurance they bought a Maryland state catastrophic health plan – but it didn’t fully cover the outrageous costs of medicine and procedures.

There was a fight with the insurance company over everything, while my mother was just trying to get better. My dad was fighting with the insurance company, while trying to take care of my mother. That just really hit me – the injustice of my parents working their whole lives paying insurance and then when my mother really needed it, the insurance wasn’t there. I just felt totally helpless.

This is a life-changing election for my family. The outcome will have a very direct impact on the financial security of my family. For a lot of people following politics it’s sport – but for me it’s very real. There are real issues, real people struggling.

My mother has said that we are so lucky that we’re not out on the street. The cost of paying for my mother’s medical bills wiped out a large portion of my family’s life savings that they planned for sending us to college. To get my sister and me through college, my parents put the house on the market.

I’m thankful my mother is in remission and now feeling better, but the entire experience has been unsettling because my mother had no way of preventing the disease. When President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, I breathed a sigh of relief. I knew that my mom could never be dropped from health coverage again and that my sister and I could stay on our parents plan until we are 26.

President Obama's health care reform will save my family from a future of financial uncertainty. We are relieved, but we know that all the progress will be lost if President Obama is not reelected. I will do what I can to make sure President Obama is reelected to keep the progress on health care reform and to keep this country moving forward.

Spencer is a summer organizing fellow in Alexandria, Virginia. Join him in protecting the progress we’ve made in providing quality and affordable health care to millions of Virginians.

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