Tina Ericson – RISE Together NC Member and contributor

Dear Congressman Rouzer,

I know you have a very busy schedule these days with travel to the Mexican border and hearing from your other family in West Virginia, but I thought you might be interested in a kid from North Carolina and his family.

In 2015 my son, then 15, underwent corrective surgery for severe idiopathic scoliosis. His case was so severe that had we left it uncorrected, it was only a matter of time before he would be confined to a wheelchair, where he would have remained for the rest of his life. Prior to his scoliosis becoming as painful as it was, he was an athlete. He played lacrosse for Cape Fear Lacrosse Recreational league, Shamrocks Travel, St. Mark and New Hanover High School. He was a year-round player, and my husband, his dad, was his coach. That all ended. And I share this with you because it tells a story about health care for real people.

But you may want to know a little more about the actual health care side of this as you prepare to vote on a bill that will impact tens of millions of Americans and millions of North Carolinians. If we had not had the incredibly comprehensive health insurance I receive through my employer, we would have had to pay out of pocket for the annual exam that identified and tracked my son’s condition. This office visit carried a $35 co-pay, but without insurance, it would have run anywhere from $85-$150. That is a lot of money for many of your constituents. Once we understood that we needed a specialist we had to travel to Durham. This required time off from work, three-and-a-half hours in the car from Wilmington, and significant out of pocket costs.

It was determined that our son required surgery and that his condition was worsening quickly. He underwent the procedure a month later. After spending five days in the hospital, he required extensive physical therapy. Fortunately, we had incredible insurance. And yet, it cost us more than $12,000. The full price of surgery itself would have been over $200,000. No voucher would have paid for that. No tax credit would have allowed us to pay for that surgery. No free-market principles would have made that surgery affordable.

We are extremely grateful that we had such incredible coverage and the means to cover our out-of-pocket costs. A family without employer provided coverage and under the newly proposed Trumpcare/Ryancare would never have been able to afford that medical care. They would have not been able to afford the preventive care, or the specialist office visits, or the surgery, or the physical therapy. Our son’s condition was not a result of poor lifestyle choices. He was a healthy, active, fifteen-year -old with an uncooperative spine.

Your votes matter more than you seem to realize. Your leadership is critical to the people you are paid to serve. The political agenda of the GOP always seems to leave out one very critical variable: People. The American Health Care Act is not good for Americans and it isn’t care. Do the right thing by your people and vote against it.