At White House, Westport woman tells Obama health law saved her life
Published 4:45 pm, Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Westport resident Ann Chrisman believes she owes her life to the Affordable Care Act.
Last year, Chrisman, 51, wrote President Barack Obama to say thanks. Tuesday, as a participant in a 10-person roundtable on the health care law at the White House, she was able to tell him personally.
Chrisman, a mother of three, works as a massage therapist. She enjoys her work -- but being self-employed doesn't come with health care benefits. So for quite a while, the 18-year town resident simply did without.
After Obamacare became the law of the land, though, Chrisman thought she should see about coverage.
"I'd been very healthy, but the fact it was the law was a motivation. So I went through Access Health CT to see if I could afford it," she said.
Because of Medicaid expansion, she found that she qualified, and was able to get coverage.
Shortly afterward, Chrisman had a checkup -- and discovered she had breast cancer.
Her cancer was caught at a very early stage, and so she has the benefit of "a 98 percent survival rate," she wrote in her letter to Obama. "It has saved my life!"
Last week, she was stunned by a call from the White House, asking her to come to Washington and meet the president.
"It was like `Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' " she said. "I got a golden ticket."
It's no accident that Obama convened the meeting with the 10 Affordable Care Act success stories this week. The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed yet another effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal the ACA. It's the 56th effort to gut or repeal the law -- and while Republican leaders in both houses concede they have no chance of overriding a certain veto, it is a chance for Republican freshmen in Congress to burnish conservative credentials by casting a vote to repeal the act, which is anathema for many Republicans.
The repeal bill passed the House without a single Democratic vote, 239-186.
Obama "should talk to all the people who have been harmed by the Affordable Care Act," Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said Tuesday. Barrasso, a physician, has been a plain-spoken and consistent foe of the healthcare law.
White House officials said another reason for the timing of Tuesday's event was to stress that open enrollment for this year continues only through Feb. 15.
Chrisman knows the law is unpopular with some.
"Social Security wasn't universally accepted initially, either," she said. "I'm hoping that as more people are helped, the Affordable Care Act really gets appreciated across the board."
She said she wrote Obama because she felt she owed it to him and the people who created the healthcare law. "I have a deep sense of gratitude," she said. "I wanted them to see a real person they had helped."