Open letter to Ted Yoho; member of the Freedom Caucus who wishes to do a Full Repeal of the ACA. From your Gainesville Constituent, Sarah Rockwell, Ph.D.
Please don’t take away my son’s therapy.
My son has Autism. He is an amazing kid. He loves building things – especially electronics – and he always draws and writes out plans for the things he builds. His favorite classes in school are art and science. He is his little sister’s biggest supporter and helper. He loves animals. He adores Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and can tell you every way in which the books and movies differ. He is smart and funny and loving and kind. And without ACA he’d be a mess.
You see, my son’s autism affects his sensory and visual-motor systems to an alarming degree. Two years ago, when he started school, it wasn’t uncommon for him to walk into walls or knock over his sister or trip over his own feet because his motor planning was so delayed. Two years ago he couldn’t even hold a crayon correctly, let alone write or draw. He couldn’t run, skip, ride a bike, or pump a swing. He couldn’t go out to dinner or to a fair or theme park because his sensory system couldn’t cope. I had to pick him up early from school most days because he couldn’t function.
This year he is at the top of his class in every subject. He rides a bike and plays tennis. He writes stories and makes beautiful art. He can enjoy a trip to the Medieval Faire or to Disney World or to Chik-Fil-A. You may wonder what changed. It’s very simple – he got diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder and started getting intensive occupational therapy. This therapy has dramatically improved his life and has changed his future outlook. Instead of being a person who society would have to care for, he will be a person who contributes to society. All this because we can get therapy for him. But if he or his therapist is sick and he misses a session, we see regression. It’s possible that he may need therapy for the rest of his life to maintain this level of functioning. And if that’s what he needs, he should be able to get it!
Without ACA there is no way my son would have these services. Before ACA insurance companies covered rehabilitative care – therapy following injury or illness, therapy to regain lost function. They did not cover habilitative care – therapy to gain function or maintain function. My son’s occupational therapy is habilitative care and it is due to ACA that we can afford it.
We are responsible adults with college degrees and careers. We have never relied on anyone but ourselves and our own family for our financial means. We have never had a lapse in insurance coverage – whether we were insured through our employers or paid privately. We are the picture of personal responsibility. Yet, without ACA we would be in dire straights. We currently pay $160 per month for my son’s therapy. Without insurance coverage, my son’s therapy would cost us $125 per session. That’s $250 a week or $1,000 a month. That’s as much as the rent or mortgage for a 3 bedroom house in Gainesville!
Please do not repeal ACA. Please do not leave our hard-working family without the means to give our son a chance at a productive life. Please do not doom our intelligent, hard-working son to a life where he cannot support himself or contribute to society. Please consider my son and all the children who, like him, need habilitative care. They need ACA.