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Jackson, 51, was laid off in June from a job she had for eight years. She landed a new position at the end of July, but won’t qualify for medical coverage until February. She planned to look at health care plans to bridge the gap but says she doesn’t "want to sign up for something and find out later on down the road that is not what I signed up for. I’m going to wait and watch."
Amber Wood, 32 and the mother of two young daughters, also plans to wait. While her husband has health insurance through his job, premiums are too high to cover them all. Wood works as an independent contractor with several businesses, so she doesn’t have health coverage through an employer.
Town Hall set
On Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., The Salt Lake Tribune and KCPW will co-sponsor an Affordable Care Act town-hall meeting at Salt Lake City Main Library’s auditorium, 210 E. 400 South. Reporter Jennifer Napier-Pearce will moderate a discussion with a panel of experts, who also will answer questions.
"I’ve got to do something," Wood said. "Let’s say I sign up tomorrow and get insurance. Is what I sign up for even going to be valid or am I going to have to go through the whole process again in a couple weeks or months? I’m a little at a loss right now."
Angie Welling blames Lee, Utah’s junior senator, for helping to create a lot of the confusion.
A former spokeswoman for Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert who now works in public relations, Welling scolded Lee for his strong-arm tactics to defund the ACA.
In a letter published Tuesday on the blog utahpolicy.com, she accused Lee and "his ilk" of acting like "schoolyard bullies" with their "Stop Obamacare at All Costs mantra." Real people are being hurt, Welling said, including her cancer-survivor mother, Beckie Clarkson.
Welling said in an interview that her mom has been uninsured off and on during the past 16 years as a result of that cancer, considered a pre-existing condition. Her mother is not seeking a handout — just the same access everyone else has "without having to go through a 19-page questionnaire about her health history."
"Today, God willing, Mom will sign up for health insurance on the federal health exchange. She will finally have coverage. That is, if you and your group of obstructionist legislators don’t ultimately get your way," Welling wrote. "Then the only gagging she’ll experience will be as she watches the childish behavior coming out of Washington, D.C."
For his part, Lee contends the ACA "is a failure that will inevitably hurt businesses, American families and the economy."
Brian Phillips, the first-term senator’s communications director, said he was aware of Welling’s letter and empathized with her mother’s plight.
But, he said, for "every person like that there are others who are losing their jobs and losing their insurance" because of the ACA and its impact on businesses — the basis for Lee’s opposition.
"It breaks your heart to see she’s had those kinds of issues and those kinds of problems," Phillips said. "But we talk to people every day who are screaming and yelling because they are losing their health insurance."
Home Depot, he said, is taking away health insurance for 20,000 part-time workers.
"We are getting hundreds of calls a day from people who feel the new policy is going to make the health care system much worse," Phillips said.
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