Margaret Figueroa, a 49 year old woman in New York, had her doctors and prescriptions revoked when she signed up for New York’s ObamaCare exchange. Ms. Figueroa was one of the more than 1 million New Yorkers who joined the New York State of Health Marketplace, but was shocked to find that the plan wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Margaret Figueroa suffers from Arnold Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia, a rare neurological disease. Chiari malformations are structural defects in the brain that lead to chronic, debilitating pain.
Chiari malformations (CMs) are structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance. Normally the cerebellum and parts of the brain stem sit in an indented space at the lower rear of the skull, above the foramen magnum (a funnel-like opening to the spinal canal). When part of the cerebellum is located below the foramen magnum, it is called a Chiari malformation.
CMs may develop when the bony space is smaller than normal, causing the cerebellum and brain stem to be pushed downward into the foramen magnum and into the upper spinal canal. The resulting pressure on the cerebellum and brain stem may affect functions controlled by these areas and block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)— the clear liquid that surrounds and cushions the brain and spinal cord—to and from the brain.
Ms. Figueroa’s condition is an Arnold-Chiari malformation meaning it effects both the cerebellar and brain stem tissue. The nerve tissue that you and I have that connects the two halves of our cerebellum may be absent in her brain.
To complicate matters, she has a related condition called Syringomyelia where a cyst forms within her spinal cord and then slowly destroys the spinal cord itself. This leads to severe pain, weakness, headaches, and the loss of feeling in the hands.
Ms. Figueroa had several surgeries to try and relieve some of the symptoms associated with her condition and is on constant medication in order to control the crippling pain that comes with Arnold-Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia.
All that may sound complicated, but what it essentially boils down to is that Margaret Figueroa has serious, life-impacting symptoms every day that must be managed through regular medications. She lost that access when she joined ObamaCare.
“I have been in pain. I’ve been vomiting. I lost 22 pounds. The pain is unbearable. My medication helps me function during the day,” added Ms. Figueroa, who has undergone four brain surgeries for her conditions, which require her to take numerous amounts of medication.
She takes five different medications several times per day, like morphine for the chronic pain and other medications to help slow the affects of her nerve damage.
But some of her prescriptions had no refills, forcing her to go without them for three months.
Millions of Americans suffer chronic medical conditions of one sort or another. These conditions generally require regular medications and doctor visits. Ms. Figueroa also lost access to her physician and cannot find one who participates in her new plan. For someone who just needs yearly checkups and the occasional doctor visit for the flu, that might not be as serious a problem, but for someone in her condition it is a traumatic experience.
Ms. Figueroa sought out the help of Rep. Michael Grimm’s (R-Staten Island/Brooklyn) office. With the Congressman’s intervention, she was able to refill some of her prescriptions this month, but Grimm says this is just an indication of the terrible problems with the President’s health care program.
“That’s the problem — that the back end of ObamaCare hasn’t been fully built. You can go on the front end of an application and look at a list of plans, but what they don’t tell you is that many of those plans don’t have doctors yet.”
“We didn’t solve anything (with ObamaCare), all we did was destroy a good thing,” said Grimm.
Although Ms. Figueroa’s story is heartbreaking, sadly it’s not the only one we will come across as ObamaCare is fully implemented. Many Americans who require consistent access to quality healthcare are finding that ObamaCare often puts that out of reach.