By Kristy Gnibus, candidate for Congress, 16th District
My life changed when I was twenty years old. While expecting my first daughter, Zoey, I was diagnosed with a cancerous ovarian tumor. Though I was fortunate enough to be covered by my mother’s insurance—provided by her job at the U.S. Postal Service—for the start of my treatment, things took a turn once my daughter was born. As a new mom I was ineligible for continued coverage under my mother’s plan and had to find my own health coverage.
Back then, there was no Affordable Care Act and I was unable to afford insurance on my own. I was a full-time college student working part-time at the local grocery store, constantly worrying about raising a newborn daughter while trying to figure out how to get the health care treatment that I needed. Even now, it is exhausting to write about it. Thankfully, I was able to receive coverage through Medicaid and eventually able to undergo the necessary procedures to remove the cancerous tumor. I could finally focus on my family and resume my studies.
Nearly fourteen years later, I am cancer-free with two beautiful girls and working as a public-school teacher. I have also worked second jobs as a bartender or Uber driver to make ends meet.
No one should have to experience this nightmare that I, and so many others across Pennsylvania and our nation, have been through. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how dire the situation can be. Over 36 million people have lost their jobs, but their income has not been the only thing they lost. While in the midst of an unprecedented health crisis, millions of Americans have also lost their health care.
Our economy’s unemployment rate is now above 15 percent, the worst since the Great Depression. More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians are at risk of losing employee-sponsored health insurance. In Western Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District more than 13,000 members of our community have insurance through the ACA, and even more have signed up to purchase health coverage through the exchanges. Of these people receiving coverage in our district, more than 40% of them are between the ages of 55 and 64 years old. The ACA is a critical stopgap for people who are not yet eligible to receive Medicare. The ACA has insured millions of Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid, Medicare, or insurance through their employer. In addition to securing critical protections for children, families, and individuals with pre-existing conditions, it has allowed millions across the nation to sign up for health insurance. If the ACA is overturned, over 21 million people could lose their health insurance coverage and many more could pay higher premiums or lose parts of their coverage. What’s more, these people are often the most vulnerable members of our communities.
Republican Congressman Mike Kelly has been opposed to the ACA from the start. One of his first votes in Congress was an attempt to repeal patient protections and undermine the ACA. Time and time again, Kelly has voted against our health care: twice in 2011, once in 2012, three times in 2013, three times in 2014, four times in 2015, twice in 2016, twice in 2017, and again in 2019. He’s taken 18 votes in total to undercut our health care and the Affordable Care Act, and this does not even include his numerous votes against Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
I believe everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care and I am running for Congress to be a fighter and advocate for working people, who are struggling, just like my family, here in Western Pennsylvania. I would be honored to have your support on November 3, 2020.
Visit Kristy Gnibus’s profile on the Butler County Democratic Committee’s candidates page for more information on her candidacy for the 16th Congressional District. To learn how to get involved with her campaign go to https://www.kristyforcongress.com.