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American Heart Association advocate testifies before Congress

On January 29th, Andrew Blackshear from Benecia, California, testified before the House Ways and Means Committee, sharing his story about the importance of access to care.

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Andrew on Capitol Hill

After experiencing chest pains in 2015, an echocardiogram revealed that fluid had built up around his heart, and he needed emergency open-heart surgery to drain the fluid.  Later, he was diagnosed with heart failure at the Mayo Clinic and underwent a second open-heart surgery to remove the sac around his heart.

After his first surgery, his insurance company refused to cover nearly $200,000 in medical bills until he could prove that his heart disease hadn’t been caused by a pre-existing condition.  Following this experience, Andrew enrolled in a different health plan through the framework put into place by the Affordable Care Act.

Andrew testifying

His first-hand experience made for valuable testimony before the House Committee, highlighting the importance of insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Prior to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions struggled to pay exorbitant medical bills because their care wasn’t covered.

In his testimony, Andrew said that “No one should face the prospect of being unable to afford the care they need to stay alive.” 

 

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