LETTERS: Amy Coney Barrett’s anti-ACA stance hurts victims of violence

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Editor: I’m an Aurora resident, I’m a gender violence policy expert and medical student, I support the ACA, and I wish I could change Senator Cory Gardner’s rushed vow to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Patients who are victims of gender violence present not just with bruises and breaks but with chest pain and palpitations, chronic pain, high blood pressure, headaches, anxiety, depression, PTSD. Often, it’s not clear that these are conditions that are a direct result of violence. Sometimes, they show up long after the violence itself.

But if you have received medical treatment as a direct and immediate result of sexual assault, you now have a pre-existing condition.

Before the Affordable Care Act, you could be denied healthcare coverage because of that pre-existing condition. Right now you can’t.

But I worry about the future of healthcare for my patients and especially victims. Because Amy Coney Barrett wants to dismantle the ACA. Right after the election, the Supreme Court will hear yet another case trying to eliminate the ACA and its protections for the 68 million women — and millions of others — with pre-existing conditions.

I really worry about my patients who are presenting with after-effects of gender violence, and whether or not I’m still going to see them because they’re not getting the coverage from insurance companies like they need. And I’m afraid what these conditions going untreated will mean for their jobs, for their families, and what that’s going to mean when they show up in the Emergency Department because preventative care wasn’t available.

You might not know it, but the ACA helps people afford mental health services. Right now, mental health care is needed more than ever. Our loved ones are struggling with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation–and those mental health concerns have clear physical consequences, such as chronic pain and substance abuse, because you’re self-medicating and not getting access to the proper resources and pharmaceuticals.

When we limit access to health care, we’re simply blocking people who are already victims of trauma from getting life-saving care. That’s not the kind of place we want to live in, where choices aren’t really choices, where you have to make decisions that sacrifice your own well-being. That’s not the America we all signed up for.

— Medha Gudavalli, via [email protected]