Ann Romney, MS, and the ACA

The cover story of this morning’s USA Today is what the paper describes as a “candid” interview with aspiring First Lady Ann Romney. The piece focuses on her diagnosis, 14 years ago, of multiple sclerosis (MS).

By all accounts, Romney is warm, down-to-earth, and has a good sense of humor. She also speaks eloquently in USA Today of what MS has meant to her life: “It’s really chiseled and shaped me, almost like a wine press would, or an olive press”; “this kind of serious health challenge has made me more compassionate, more understanding of those who are struggling”; and “I learned that we don’t escape this life without tragedy and chaos and difficulty.”

Yet, her husband, Mitt, has declared that his first priority as president would be to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Keep in mind that the ACA is a godsend to people suffering with MS, especially those who are not married to multi-millionaires. Most importantly, the ACA will make it illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions such as MS.

The ACA will also prevent insurance companies from placing annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Routine coverage for MS can easily run between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, quickly putting patients above insurance company imposed ceilings. The ACA will also increase access to health insurance for low-income sufferers of MS, by expanding the coverage of Medicaid and providing subsidies to purchase private insurance.

Since Ann Romney has made her MS an issue in the campaign, I hope that reporters press her about the impact of the repeal of the ACA on others with the disease. A few suggested questions for the next USA Today interview:

Mrs. Romney, should insurers legally be allowed to exclude people with MS from coverage? If so, where should middle- and low-income families turn to receive the drugs and other treatments that they need?

What recommendations do you have, Mrs. Romney, for people with MS who have reached their annual or lifetime limits?

Do you think that MS patients were helped by the health-care reform that your husband passed in Massachusetts? For MS patients, how do you think that President Obama’s reforms would differ from your husband’s?

What amazes me the most in all of this is that my gut feeling is that both Ann and Mitt Romney, in their hearts, are on the right side of this issue. But, they have been driven by the hard-right of the Republican Party to take a position on the ACA that is exactly the opposite of what they believe.


  1. Paul Rutter says:

    John, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  2. ned Fox says:

    Right on, John!

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