Donnie Mann is legally blind. He lost his vision 18 months ago due to untreated Glaucoma. He relies on health insurance through the Affordable Care Act to help pay for his treatment and medications. Mann is worried now that the Senate may still repeal parts of the act.
“What happens to a person like me who needs help, who can’t see or take care of himself?” said Mann, a patient at the Johnstown Free Medical Clinic.
Opponents of the Better Care Reconciliation Act said it would cut Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood and create obstacles for people with pre-existing conditions to get health care coverage. Wednesday, the Senate rejected a full repeal of Obamacare without a replacement.
The National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics said over 1.8 million people receive health care from free clinics across the country each year. The rejected proposal could have cut Medicaid expansion programs, jeopardizing health care coverage for 23 million people.
“I get the bare minimum and now they’re talking about getting rid of the bare minimum,” said Mann.
Free clinic workers said they’re preparing for an influx of patients if the Affordable Care Act is repealed because those patients would come to free clinics for treatment, check-ups or medication.
“We’re in the process now of gearing up to receive individuals who would lose their affordable care,” said Rosalie Danchanko, the executive director of the Johnstown Free Medical Clinic.
The Johnstown Free Clinic has two full-time and five part-time employees. The clinic relies on volunteers and is looking for more.
“We’ve almost doubled our caseload since last year, ” Danchanko said.
Danchanko said legislators should address issues with the Affordable Care Act, including high insurance premiums and increased costs for medical providers. She also said they need to weigh their options because the decision will affect millions of patients, including Mann.
“I have to get retina shots to make sure the infection in my eye doesn’t go on. If they’re talking about cuts, the little teeny bit of light I see now, that would be gone. I would just see shadows,” Mann said.