WASHINGTON — As Senate Republicans huddled on Capitol Hill to plot next steps for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump gathered with so-called “victims of Obamacare” to pressure lawmakers to act.
Among those victims was a family from Mount Pleasant.
Marjorie and Kevin Weer, along with their children, Montgomery, 3, and Evangeline, 17 months, were invited with three other families to stand behind Trump on Monday for his remarks from the Blue Room of the White House.
It’s the second time over the course of one month that the Weers have been brought to Washington to speak out against the 2010 health law they say has negatively impacted the care available to Monty, who was diagnosed in utero with spina bifida.
According to Marjorie Weer, who has taken on the role of de facto family spokeswoman, Monty struggles to receive continuity of care as he gets treatment through two different insurance companies and health care plans.
Blue Cross Blue Shield, the last Affordable Care Act insurer in the marketplace in South Carolina, restricts most of its coverage to inside the state, meaning the Weers have to fight from year to year to get Monty coverage for his annual visit to a spina bifida clinic in Boston. He was able to get to Boston this year but there’s no guarantee he’ll get coverage to travel there in the future.
“Washington Democrats promised families like the Weers that if they liked their doctor they could keep their doctor, but now there is only one insurer left in the state exchange, and Marjorie says that every year she waits anxiously to learn if the doctors and hospitals which her son needs the most will remain in their network,” Trump said from the White House, turning to nod at the Weers. “More Obamacare lies.”
In an interview with The Post and Courier following the public event, Marjorie Weer said she couldn’t compare what life was like pre-Affordable Care Act versus today, since Monty was born in 2014, when the new health law was already put in place.
She acknowledged her family has benefited from the Obamacare provision that insurance companies cannot deny coverage to an individual because of a preexisting condition. She also cited the current health law’s ban on lifetime spending limits as helpful.
However, Weer said that over time she has watched Monty’s options for doctors and services get “more and more narrow,” a trend she attributed to the Affordable Care Act’s failure.
A major complaint of the GOP’s current framework is that it would take too steep a knife to Medicaid, from which Monty has benefited. Weer said she didn’t want to lose the federal program, calling it a “lifesaver.”
But she said that she agreed with many Republican lawmakers — including South Carolina’s Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott — that the entitlement program has grown too large and will become insolvent if efforts are not made to rein it in.
As Republicans struggle to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Weer conceded that she, too, was struggling to keep up with what exactly Senate GOP leaders were proposing to put on the floor as early as Tuesday.
Ultimately, Weer said, she felt fairly confident that under the Senate Republican bill, preexisting conditions protections would be preserved, along with the ban on lifetime spending caps. Whether the legislation sufficiently accomplishes these goals is, in fact, subject to debate between supporters and critics.
No matter what, Weer said Obamacare had to go, and she, like Trump, believed Republicans who try to thwart that effort should be held accountable.
“If you can’t get the job done, then search for employment elsewhere,” Weer told a group of reporters outside the White House on Monday, referring to GOP lawmakers. “We’re done with your excuses. You can’t do the job, go home and we will find somebody else to come and take your place.”
Lauren Sausser contributed to this report from Charleston.
Emma Dumain is The Post and Courier’s Washington correspondent. Reach her at 843-834-0419 and follow her @emma_dumain.