The CCFA has an articulate, thorough form letter available on their website that is automatically sent to your senators and representatives based on your address. If you suffer from IBD, know someone who does, or are an incredibly kind, empathetic soul who likes to advocate for strangers, please take advantage of this tool!
It literally took me less than five minutes to input my personal information and jazz up the letter with my own story.
With the transition of power happening Friday here in the U.S. it is all but guaranteed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) will be repealed. The GOP, who will now control the House and Senate and are the chosen party of our PEOTUS have been working for years to try and repeal pieces and the whole of the ACA. It is at the top of their list to “repeal and replace” this cornerstone of President Obama’s work over the past eight years, with “repeal” being the certain part of the plan and the “replace” remaining a question mark. The GOP has no firm, clear, ready-to-go replacement plan in place. With this huge and largely unknown change on the horizon, it is more important than ever to defend and advocate for those with chronic illnesses who face the very real, very immediate threat of a lapse in health care coverage and discrimination from insurance companies for having a pre-existing condition. This is absolutely unacceptable and a step backwards in ensuring the life, liberties and the pursuit of happiness for Americans – unalienable rights our elected officials swear to uphold.
You can construct your own letter on the CCFA’s website and will find a copy of my letter welcoming the 115th Congress below:
“Welcome to the 115th Congress! As a constituent and volunteer with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), I write to urge you to support health policies that protect patients’ access to the care they need. Below is information about inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) followed by principles that we hope will guide your activities in the next Congress.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively known as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), affect approximately 1.6 million Americans. IBD are painful, medically incurable, debilitating diseases that affect the digestive system.
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2010 at the age of 20. Since then, I’ve undergone surgery, tried six medications, countless vitamins and supplements, and have drastically changed my diet to still wake up to varying degrees of health day to day. I’ve balanced all of this while being a earning my bachelor’s degree, maintaining a full-time job, playing soccer and softball, performing improv, and volunteering with the CCFA’s Camp Oasis and Big Brothers Big Sisters LA in my free time.
I have personally benefitted from several of the provisions set forth in the ACA, and it is because of the health care I receive that I am able to stay healthy and lead such a productive and fulfilling life. I would love to see the continued health care coverage of those with pre-existing conditions, like myself, as well as any other American in need of heath care to be a top priority for our Congress in this and coming years.
The CCFA and I urge you to support the following health care access priorities:
– Ensure stability by accompanying any repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with a viable replacement. For patients with IBD, any interruption in coverage can lead to worsened health outcomes and consequences like surgery to remove all or part of the bowel.
– Maintain basic patient protections and prohibit insurer discrimination against chronic disease patients. Basic patient rights include prohibiting discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s insurance until age 26, limiting patient out of pocket spending, and prohibiting lifetime annual caps.
– Improve the quality of insurance plans. Patients with chronic diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis need to be able to access a range of treatments, services, and specialists in a timely manner in order to optimize their health outcomes. Many patients are subject to medical management protocols like step therapy that delay appropriate treatment. National health policies must require minimum coverage standards, guard against discrimination, and ensure access to transparent and expedient appeals processes.
The following agencies support critical research on IBD in local facilities across the country:
– National Institutes of Health (NIH), including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) IBD Program
– Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program
These agencies must be provided robust funding in the annual appropriations bills in order to advance IBD medical research that will lead to new and better treatments and cures.
Lastly please consider joining the bi-partisan Congressional Crohn’s & Colitis Caucus. With 76 members at the end of 2016, the Caucus works together to raise awareness in Congress about Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis, support medical research, and protect health care access. Please contact the office of Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY-17) to join this important group.
Thank you for your consideration for the above health care priorities of the IBD community. I look forward to working with you this year to support patients with IBD and other chronic diseases.”