Joe Kennedy's Impassioned Defense Of Obamacare Invokes His Intern's Battle With Cancer — Twice

He's asking his Republican colleagues to help him strengthen the law, not to gut it completely.

When the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its report on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday, it confirmed many Americans' worst fears about how the Republicans' push to repeal and replace Obamacare may hurt their ability to afford health insurance. 

According to the CBO, 24 million more Americans will be uninsured under the GOP's new health care proposal — 14 million by next year — and scores of older folk with lower incomes will join the ranks of the uninsured as premiums for them rise. A 64-year-old person earning $26,500 a year would an estimated 750 percent bump in their premiums by 2026, increasing their bill from $1,700 under the current Affordable Care Act (ACA) to a staggering $14,600.

The mountain of criticism towards the AHCA has led some Republican lawmakers to back away from supporting it, and it seems unlikely that the bill will pass, despite Speaker Paul Ryan insisting that it will, and President Trump backing it at the moment. But many still fear that it could, and its critics are urging Republicans to ditch their campaign to repeal and replace the ACA, instead imploring them to improve on it. 

One of the people firmly in that camp is Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who has been an avowed defender of the ACA. On Tuesday, Kennedy appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe and tore into the Republicans' AHCA bill. 

The Massachusetts Democrat stressed that while Obamacare has done "great things" for American health care, it still has it flaws that can be strengthened, rather than having the entire law gutted and replaced. He then talked about one of his interns who was diagnosed with cancer twice — and both times, the ACA saved her life. 

"She's 25 years old and has had cancer now twice," Kennedy said, holding back his emotions slightly. "And because of the ACA, not only did she get access to the treatment that she needed, but her family could afford it, she could get insurance and she's covered now, going forward."

That intern is Jen Fox, whom reported lost her insurance that she was getting through college at 19 because her chemotherapy treatments hindered her ability to enroll in school as a full-time student. But Obamacare allowed her to stay on her parents' health care plans until 26. The Republican bill will maintain this provision, but will essentially strip health care from those who need it most, the poorest and the sickest. 

"You cannot deny that this law has done some really good things to some people in need. And that, at its heart, is what health care is supposed to be all about; it's about how we treat each other in a time of need," Kennedy said.

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