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North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger Suggests Sick Citizens Move To Another State To Save North Carolina Money

According to the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, 191 million people in the US live with a chronic disease and nearly one in four adults have two or more chronic health conditions. By allowing individual states to decide which benefits insurers must cover as it does in the House passed bill, patients will find their access to care will vary based on where they live.

For people who are sick, like Raleigh, N.C. resident, Regan Reynolds, the possibility of moving may feel like an impossible hurdle, yet that action was suggested by North Carolina U.S. Representative Robert Pittenger (R), who said recently that under the new AHCA repeal and replace bill state governments should control which health benefits are considered essential. According to Rep. Pittenger, If you have a chronic disease and don’t like the coverage options in your state, you can just pick your life up and move to another state.

“Besides being appallingly cruel, Pittenger’s statement defies logic and common sense,” said Louis Tharp, executive director of the Global Healthy Living Foundation and CreakyJoints, its arthritis community. “In 2015, 6.1 million North Carolinians had at least 1 chronic disease and 2.5 million had two or more. This means that at least 60 percent of the state could lose access to affordable coverage and even if they can pay the potentially higher premiums, the plan’s benefits may not even include treatments for their chronic disease. If they chose to leave the state, Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro would be ghost towns, along with hundreds of other towns including Grandfather Village, which only has 25 people. Now is not the time for crazy talk from Congressmen,” Tharp said.

People’s lives depend on affordable, high quality healthcare that includes coverage for the services that they need in the state that they live in.

“People, especially those suffering from chronic disease, can’t just pick up and move to another state that thankfully chose to protect its patients from high premiums and poor coverage,” Tharp said.

CreakyJoints, an online patient organization representing over 100,000 people with all forms of arthritis, finds Representative Pittenger’s remarks utterly outrageous, and many of our members are equally insulted and, also, scared. Arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Of the 53 million adults with a doctor diagnosis of arthritis, more than 22 million say they have trouble with their usual activities because of arthritis.

Regan Reynolds, a volunteer patient advocate for CreakyJoints, lives with ankylosing spondylitis (an autoimmune arthritis), fibromyalgia, and Reynaud’s syndrome. She didn’t ask to have lifelong chronic illnesses and her doctors are amazed by her dedication to healthy living, diet, exercise and compliance to her treatment plan. Yet, she still battles symptoms, such as fatigue and pain, that are often invisible to her family, friends, colleagues and community.

“Living with a chronic disease is hard, but I’m grateful that I have the support of my family, friends and the CreakyJoints community who understand what I’m going through,” said Ms. Reynolds.

“I’ve lived in North Carolina my entire life. Watching the Republican-led Congress pull apart the current healthcare system has really made me panic. The Affordable Care Act is far from perfect, but it made efforts to protect millions of people like me from predatory pricing practices, plus provided common sense essential health benefits. This proposed new plan worries me and I don’t believe that it will provide the healthcare coverage that I need and can afford. Certainly, I’ll never leave N.C. in search of a better healthcare deal as Representative Pittenger suggested.”

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