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North Yarmouth woman joins King to praise Affordable Care Act

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North Yarmouth woman joins King to praise Affordable Care Act

NORTH YARMOUTH — A former town resident who was diagnosed with a rare heart disease at the age of 16 is praising the Affordable Care Act, and the help it has provided her family.

Now 22, Hannah Dorr stood with U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, Dec. 12 at a Washington, D.C., press conference, to promote the act and share her experience.

The 2010 legislation ensured that 17 million children – about 65,000 of whom live in Maine – who have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, or asthma can no longer be blocked from obtaining health insurance, according to a press release from King's office.

Starting next year, insurance companies will also no longer be able to deny adults coverage, or charge higher premiums to anyone based on health history or status.

"I feel very fortunate that I was given the opportunity to share my experience alongside Senator King," Dorr said via email last week. "The Affordable Care Act is an issue I have been following closely and care deeply about."

Dorr has arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, a progressive and genetic heart disease. Because of the Affordable Care Act, she said, she can remain on her parents' insurance until she turns 26, and her condition cannot prevent her from getting coverage.

Dorr served as a health policy intern in King's campaign last year, and for about five months this year worked in the senator's Washington office. After graduating from  George Washington University in May, she is now a research assistant at a health-care consulting firm in Washington.

Although she lives in Arlington, Va., she said will always consider herself from North Yarmouth.  

"We are currently working on various projects, some of which relate to the Affordable Care Act," Dorr said of her work with the firm. "I feel very fortunate that my first job is in the field that I am most passionate about."

She said she knows from personal experience how the six months following college graduation are an uncertain time in a person's life, particularly given the job market.

"Before the Affordable Care Act, a child would no longer be eligible for their parent's (health insurance) plan six months after college," Dorr said. "This would mean more graduates taking jobs they are not passionate about, which is not productive for anyone. Not only would the premiums be unaffordable for this age group, but should they get sick, the cost sharing might have the potential to land them in more debt than they accumulated in college. The Affordable Care Act gives graduates more time to get settled and find a job with employer-sponsored insurance."

While her condition presents restrictions she must deal with daily, she said, "I am lucky to be surrounded by a health-care team that has the best information available for a largely unknown disease. I do not expect (the disease) to slow me down anytime soon."

Dorr said in the press release that she has been fortunate that her family had "top-of-the-line insurance that gave me access to the incredible team of doctors that cared for me, and did not send my family spiraling into debt, and for the friends and family that helped pay extra costs, such as travel expenses, by creating a charity in my name: Hearts for Hannah."

But most of all, Dorr said she considers herself lucky that "no matter what uncertainty there is in the future, there is now certainty that I will be able to find insurance within my means because of the Affordable Care Act."

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.