After the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, Oklahoma doctors and Patients have begun to ask questions about what it could mean for the future of their care.
Among them is Madison Pierce. The 31-year-old IT worker was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2011. The symptoms began with a frightening “tingling” sensation that spread from her neck to her fingers. Since then, others have surfaced.
“I will slur my words, I kind of will trail off sentences. Definitely lose my train of thought.”
Right now, her symptoms are taken care of by the daily medication Gilynia. It costs her insurance company $21,455 every 90 days. It’s taken daily and prevents her MS from getting worse, but the AHCA could force her to pay that full cost.
“This is a maintenance medication that I have to take,” Pierce said.
The AHCA lets states waive out of covering some pre-existing conditions, prescription drugs and even hospital stays. Something doctors say could be on the horizon in a state plagued by a near billion-dollar budget hole.
“Bills such as this sometimes actually do twist your arm to have to consider it because there may not be any immediate options,” President of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, Dr. Kevin Taubman said.
Supporters, including all five Oklahoma Congressmen, say the bill gives power back to local communities they believe should make decisions for themselves. Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole said any state opting to waive out would be rare.
“I think it's very unlikely that any governor of any state will remove the preexisting conditions clause and if they do the people of that state could correct it pretty quickly,” he said on NPR’s Morning Edition.
But for those like Pierce, the hope is whatever happens next, that politics won't get in the way.
“I hope that people see past the partisan lines that have been drawn and look to people and how they're affected,” she said.