Carrigan Nelson, 18, is receiving coverage for treatment through Affordable Care Act Now faces possibility of losing coverage if Trump admin’s lawsuit succeeds

Jan 28, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) announced today that he will welcome Carrigan Nelson of Portsmouth as his guest for the State of the Union address next month.


"Facing a cancer diagnosis just weeks after my 18th birthday was devastating.  A month before my chemotherapy ended my mother lost her employer-sponsored health coverage because she was not covered by the Family Medical Leave Act,” said Carrigan. “Thankfully, with the help of Congressman Cicilline's office, I was able to obtain health care through the Affordable Care Act and complete my treatment plan, which included critical post-chemotherapy scans. I am happy to report I am cancer-free and am extremely grateful for the work of Congressman Cicilline and his office. I am looking forward to attending this year’s State of the Union as his guest, and highlighting the importance of access to quality, affordable health care."


Last year, at age 18, Carrigan was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. While Carrigan was battling cancer last year, her family lost their employer-sponsored health care coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, her family was able to enroll in the state’s health insurance exchange.


Carrigan’s mother, Tammy, contacted Congressman Cicilline’s office in December 2019 after being told her daughter was no longer insured for a series of important tests she would need. Cicilline’s office was able to coordinate with state agencies to resolve the issue with Carrigan’s enrollment status. Next month, when Carrigan turns 19, she will be able to continue her treatment as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. 


Carrigan and her family’s access to health care, however, could be eliminated if the Trump administration gets its way.


During his first two years in office, President Trump worked with Republican majorities in the House and Senate to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, including the weakening of protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Although these efforts failed in large part due to public outrage, the President directed his Justice Department to go to court to overturn the ACA and eliminate protections for folks with pre-existing conditions.


“I’m honored to be bringing such a brave, inspiring young woman to this year’s State of the Union,” said Cicilline. “Carrigan has demonstrated a level of grace and courage beyond her years. Her story is an inspiration to us all. It’s also a reminder of why we must protect the benefits the Affordable Care Act provides, especially protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”


If the administration succeeds, 130 million people with pre-existing conditions like Carrigan’s will lose protections. Federal funding for the Medicaid expansion that she will rely on this year will also be eliminated, as will bans on lifetime and annual health care coverage.


As President Trump continues his assault on the protections provided by the Affordable Care Act, Cicilline has worked with colleagues to strengthen protections for people with pre-existing conditions and bring down health care and prescription drug costs. The Rhode Island Congressman joined every Democrat and five Republicans in passing the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R.987) last May. Like most bills passed by the House, however, this bipartisan proposal is still sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk.