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Constituents discuss health care with Crow

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Congressman Jason Crow joined a roundtable where advocates told their stories of a difficult health-care system

By Liam Adams

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Staff Writer

Being in D.C. just the day before, Representative Jason Crow (D–U.S. House District 6) stopped in Brighton  June 14 to hear local constituents talk their difficulties with the health-care system.

The roundtable at Salud Family Health Centers, which provides medical care to low-income families, featured seven health-care advocates telling stories about accruing major medical expenses when insurance didn’t help enough.

Liz Reilly talked about her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at 26. Upon realizing that her flares were worsened by her stressful job, she took her doctor’s advice and changed her career path. So she enrolled at Colorado State University to study occupational therapy.

“My mission was to go back to school and teach other people with that disease and help them control what they can’t control,” Reilly said.

From having to pay health insurance and out-of-state graduate tuition, Reilly took out a second mortgage on her home. Then, after graduating, she’s had multiple other surgeries and gone on extremely costly biologics to treat her rheumatoid arthritis.

From having to pay health insurance and out-of-state graduate tuition, Reilly took out a second mortgage on her home. Then, after graduating, she’s had multiple other surgeries and gone on costly biologics to treat her rheumatoid arthritis.

All of this has amounted to a ridiculous amount of debt, causing her to ask, “How am I ever going to get ahead?”

Reilly argues that if the Affordable Care Act been in place when much of this happened, life could’ve been easier because she would’ve qualified for pre-existing conditions earlier on.

Another advocate, Nicole Cimbura, talked about her husband, Mike, who was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and sadly, passed away in March.

“It was completely out of the blue because he was the epitome of perfect health,” Cimbura said. He’d ride his bike back and forth to work for the entire 25 years they had been married.

After the diagnosis, the ALS worsened and caused him to become a quadriplegic and confined to a bed, which required constant attention and care. With Cimbura working a full-time job as a teacher and their kids in school, the family’s only option was to have someone else take care of him throughout the day.

However, insurance didn’t cover a caretaker, and Cimbura wasn’t making enough to pay a company. So they went through Craig’s List for a while. Fortunately, family and friends also started a fund to help pay for Mike’s care throughout the day. When Cimbura got home at 4:30, though, she was Mike’s primary caretaker.

In addition to a caretaker, Cimbura fought a long battle with insurance to cover other major expenses, like a rotating bed fame. It wasn’t until three years after Mike’s diagnosis that insurance helped more.

Cimbura said she’s still dealing with insurance and lingering expenses, even though Mike has already passed.

Since meeting with Cimbura for the first time in February, Crow was surprised and saddened to hear about Mike’s passing. Crow informed Cimbura, though, that since their previous conversation, he’s become co-chair of the ALS caucus to try to help those with the disease.

Afterwards, Crow informed the group about his work to represent them in Congress, whether that’s advocating for coverage for those with pre-existing conditions or standing up to pharmaceuticals that are charging too much.