Some Chronically Ill Say High Court Ruling a Relief

By Jilian Petrus, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - For Eastern Iowa patients with chronic illness, the Affordable Care Act ruling is a relief.

It means they cannot be denied coverage despite any pre-existing medical condition.

Doctors diagnosed Amanda Frank, 33, of Cedar Rapids with Scleroderma ten years ago. The Autoimmune disease tightens her skin and cuts blood flow to her extremities - toes, nose and fingers.

"It's enough that causes me to be labeled pre-existing," said Frank. "Looking at me, you wouldn't know I've had anything, but it's something I carry with me."

A 5,000 dollar machine helps treat Frank's disorder, but it's not a cure just another cost.

"I've been in medical debt most of my life," she said. Frank says knowing she doesn't have to worry about being denied coverage in the future is a miracle.

"It takes away the worry that what if something happened for my husband's job or my job. It's a relief."

The Schrock Family from Urbana has also lived with their share of medical troubles. Mom, Heather Schrock, is a cancer survivor. In addition, both her husband and daughter has Type 1 Diabetes.

Their chronic illnesses burned through half of a million dollar insurance policy in about two years.

"For us, it's a mother thing," Schrock said, "just knowing my daughter is taken care of, and at the end of the day, that's what every mother wants."

But securing coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions is just one part of the Affordable Care Act. Doctors say the details are in mounds of paperwork.

"The expenditures of the health care act haven't kicked in fully and we're already seeing health care costs rising," said Dr. Mark Goedken with Family Physicians of Cedar Rapids.

Dr. Goedken says protecting the chronically ill, like Amanda Frank and Heather Schrock, is only one part of the health care overhaul. The doctor argues it's a sweeping piece of legislation that doesn't provide better patient care just more regulation.

"We're having to push more paper and that doesn't translate to better health care," Dr. Goedken said. "People need to be hired, not only in the physician's office, but also in the insurance offices. In addition to that, our society is continuing to have problems with being unhealthy."

Dr. Goedken says he believes private medical practices and small businesses will suffer the most with the health care changes. He also argues the changes will only exacerbate the shortage of health care workers in the country.

The Schrock and Frank families say this is not a political issue for them, it's about maintaining their future health.
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