Matthew Wheeler, who lives in the Antelope Valley, was diagnosed with congenital heart failure at the age of 25. He racked up thousands of dollars in medical debt because his insurance did not cover treatment for his pre-existing heart condition.
Wheeler is a constituent of Congressman Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale. During a Friday roundtable of Knight’s constituents to discuss how his votes in Congress could impact their lives, Wheeler said that he wants to “make sure people know where this congressman stands — and it is not with the community.”
Knight’s “lack of humanity on this issue is startling,” said Philip Germain, a health care activist and student in the district. Germain discussed his father’s battle with stage 4 cancer and an uncle who recently passed away from a heart attack.
As the 2018 midterm election draws near, two organizations are teaming up to shine a light on Knight’s dismal health care record.
“This election will mean life or death for millions of Americans who benefit from the Affordable Care Act,” Alice Walton, spokeswoman for SoCal Healthcare Coalition, said in a statement.
Walton’s organization is partnering with Health Care Voter to hold Knight accountable for his votes in Congress against the ACA, also known as Obamacare. The two groups organized the constituents’ roundtable to help kick off the new partnership.
“We intend to spend the next nine weeks doing everything we can to educate voters on how Congressman Steve Knight’s votes result in less insurance coverage, higher premiums and an uncertain future for Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Walton said.
Walton was referring to Knight’s multiple votes to get rid of the crucial protections that the ACA enshrined into law.
One such provision, which Knight sought to eliminate, is the guarantee that people with pre-existing conditions — like Wheeler — can’t be denied health coverage or charged more for it.
The Republican bill Knight voted for failed to become law, but it would have allowed insurance agencies to “charge people significantly more if they had a pre-existing condition like heart disease, cancer, diabetes or arthritis – possibly requiring people to pay thousands of dollars extra every year to remain insured,” according to Politifact.
But Knight supported other dangerous measures that did pass. And those measures, along with executive actions taken by Trump, have sabotaged the ACA and drastically increased premiums.
When families in Palmdale and across the district see their health care premiums increasing by up to $2,500 annually next year, they will have Knight to thank.
Wheeler, who is supporting Knight’s opponent Katie Hill, said access to health care is “the number one issue that comes up” when he discusses the election with other voters in the district.
Health Care Voter recently announced an effort to educate voters in more than a dozen congressional districts about their Republican representatives’ harmful votes to repeal the ACA.
The group released an ad highlighting its effort to create a constituency of voters focused on health care.
Before this new partnership launched, Knight was asked if he had any regrets about his vote on the Republican health care bill.
He said no — letting his inhumane record on health care speak for itself.