This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Washington • Stan Summers sat across from President Donald Trump on Monday as one of the "victims" of the Affordable Care Act, a law that Summers won't call by its better-known name of Obamacare.
"I'm not going to call it the other word," Summers, a Box Elder County commissioner, told Trump. "I call it the last president's health care bill. I don't need to say that name."
"Other than that, you like him a lot," Trump responded, sarcastically.
Summers does not, criticizing President Barack Obama's actions that he argues hurt rural areas like his as well as the health care law that the Utahn says has personally left his family struggling to pay medical bills. He expects to hit the $6,000 deductible within a month.
The Affordable Care Act "has made it worse. There's no believing," Summers said after leaving the White House.
Summers was one of 10 Americans summoned by the Trump administration to Washington to talk about the difficulties they face under Obama's signature domestic achievement, one that Republicans now plan to repeal and replace with their own approach to fixing the nation's health care system. The Trump White House called them "victims" of Obamacare.
"It'll get better," Trump said after meeting with Summers and the others from across the country in the Roosevelt Room. "If we're allowed to do what we want to do, it will get better. Much better. Hopefully it will get very good."
Summers says he can only hope.
His son, Talan, was born prematurely 26 years ago. He's suffered from multiple health concerns since, and now is diagnosed with Scleroderma, a rare disease that involves the hardening and tightening of skin and connective tissue, Summers says. Last year, he added, his family, which gets insurance through Box Elder County because of his elected position, spent $35,000 on health care.
"I'm still driving [a] school bus," Summers said, "because I can't quit because of my health premiums."
Summers said Trump noted that he had told Republican colleagues that they should just let Obamacare fail so people could see what a disaster it is, but then reversed himself after hearing the challenging medical situations around the table.
"He looked at me and said, 'With stories like yours, there are reasons that I don't think we should let it implode completely, because what is going to happen to you if there's no insurance at all?' " Summers quoted the president as saying.
Summers said he likes the idea of giving more control to the states, as the GOP health care bill does, although he noted there are reasons to assist those Americans who need help covering health care costs.
Matt Slonaker, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project, couldn't speak to Summers' situation but said details from the Republican plan so far could mean older Utahns would pay more for their health care, wealthier Utahns would benefit from the tax cuts, and those relying on Medicaid could see services slashed.
"The Republican plan is going to cause Utahns to be on the hook for greater costs," Slonaker said, "and the quality of insurance is not going to be as good."
Summers, a Republican who voted for Trump and found himself at the White House through Sen. Orrin Hatch's office, says he's happy there's a businessman in the White House and not a "career politician."
"I agree with the president," said Summers, "we could wait until it totally implodes and we have no health care, or we could try to do something else to make it better."