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Kammie Garr is among large numbers of Utah residents opposed to President Donald Trump's plans for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, as highlighted in a report released Wednesday.
Garr spent countless nights in the emergency room with her son, Dominick, diagnosed at age 3 with the birth defect microcephaly. He also has severe asthma and anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and a heart block.
All the while, Garr said, she knew she would never be able to pay the exorbitant medical costs. She repeatedly tried to get Dominick health insurance but said he always was denied because of pre-existing conditions.
Then the Afforable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010, preventing individuals with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage. Garr was finally able to get her son the insurance he needed.
Garr was one of about 1,700 Utahns surveyed by the Alliance for a Better Utah about their feelings toward Trump's plans to repeal and replace. More than 90 percent of those polled were against them, the report states.
"Repealing means losing the ability to help [Dominick] learn and function like he needs to to succeed as much as he can," Garr said Wednesday at a news conference. "It not only endangers his health and his life, it hinders his opportunities in the future."
Chase Thomas, the alliance's policy and advocacy counsel, said the group conducted the survey because people who have insurance through the Act seemed to be missing from the conversation, at the federal and state levels. The group delivered copies of the report Wednesday to Gov. Gary Herbert and legislative leaders.
Thomas said the alliance hoped the report will influence debate on whether to repeal the ACA and on "how to move forward and create an insurance system that protects all Utahns."
Also known as Obamacare, the Act created online insurance marketplaces that allow consumers to find the best plan to fit their needs by comparing prices and networks. People also can qualify for federal tax credits that reduce the overall cost of coverage.
Criticizing the Act's high premiums and deductibles, Trump has consistently said he wants to eliminate it. More recently, he has voiced support for keeping the pre-existing conditions portion of the law while eliminating requirements that all individuals have health insurance. Health experts have said doing both would be difficult.
The group's poll found that about 800 of those surveyed said they were protected from discrimination over pre-existing conditions. Most people surveyed also said they wanted Trump's administration to keep those protections in place.