Two Oregon women who benefited from Obamacare will attend Trump’s address

Both U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are bringing guests to the capitol tonight who benefited from the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are moving to repeal.

President Donald Trump has said he will offer “something special” during his address to a joint session of Congress about his health care overhaul efforts. He has called the ACA, also known as Obamacare, “a failed disaster.”

A draft plan by congressional Republicans would roll back much of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and replace subsidies for private plans with flat tax credits.

“What my Republican colleagues are hearing from their constituents is that the ACA is a tremendous success, 20 million more people have coverage and health care costs are rising at their slowest rate in more than 50 years,” Merkley said on a call with reporters today.

“For millions of Americans, this translates to, they have peace of mind if they get ill and receive the care need and they won’t end up bankrupt in the process. For many, it’s also the fact that the ACA is relevant in terms of whether they live or die.”

Merkley’s guest is Marlene Barbera, who lives in Portland and receives Medicaid coverage because of the ACA’s expanded eligibility. She was infected with hepatitis C while working at a plasma donation center in the 1980s, but didn’t know it until years later, since the symptoms are often delayed. First her son Max and then she became ill and both required liver transplants.

“The ACA saved my life and son’s life,” Barbera said. “Repealing this law will endanger people’s lives and make it harder for people to share stories like mine. When President Trump says he’s going to take health care from 20 million Americans, I want him to look out and see my face.”

Joining Wyden will be Maleta Christian of Myrtle Creek, who lost a job and went without health insurance for more than a year before she received it through the ACA. She used it for cancer screenings that detected ovarian cancer early and to get it treated.

Before the ACA, insurers were able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or charge significantly more.