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Monica Weeks's picture

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Believe it or not, earlier this month I had the incredible opportunity to introduce President Barack Obama at the White House for an event to bring awareness the benefits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The event was one of many in a three-week campaign to refocus our national conversation on universal health coverage and the health exchanges. As part of these efforts, MomsRising.org asked me if I was interested in sharing my experiences with the White House and I said of course!

My own story began seven years ago when I first started having symptoms of Crohn’s Disease while studying at the University of Central Florida.

Crohn’s disease is a painful chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract and, according to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, may affect as many as 700,000 Americans. As I explained in my speech, as a college student, I was able to maintain coverage under my parent’s insurance thanks to the new healthcare law.

Staying on my parent’s insurance was necessary since I required several minor surgeries with local anesthesia and two major surgeries with general anesthesia. Four years later at 23 years old and while in graduate school atFlorida International University in Miami, my symptoms returned. I was required to start extremely costly Remicade infusions, with each infusion ranging from $12,000-$15,000 at a clinic and more if you receive your infusions in a hospital. Fortunately, because of the Affordable Care Act, I was covered and able to receive the treatment I needed at an affordable cost.

President Obama mentioned in his speech that 41 million people don’t have health insurance, many of who are women and children. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year because they don’t have health care, and health care costs drive millions of people into poverty each year.

The ACA provides a solution to this problem by offering millions of people affordable health insurance and expanded access to Medicaid. Before the health exchange, I would have had to pay $700-800 per month to have private insurance because of my health condition and because I am a woman. The health exchange, for the first time in my life, gives me the flexibility to open my own small business or pursue my love of photography as a viable career option down the road. I see the Affordable Care Act as an opportunity for growth and as a way for small businesses and creative people to flourish.

I am thankful to this administration for continuously fighting for Americans’ healthcare, which I believe is a basic human right.

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Want to share your story with MomsRising the way Monica did? Visit our story collection page to tell us your experience and make your voice heard to decision makers. 


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