- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

MURRAY, Utah (AP) - Utah’s all-Republican House delegation voted Thursday in favor of a health care overhaul that could impact people with pre-existing conditions, triggering serious worries from people who fit that category.

Salt Lake City resident Emilee Sharp said she is considering rushing a major spinal surgery in case she loses her insurance even though her doctor warned it’s risky. Sharp suffered spinal damage as a result of a fall down a cliff while ATVing in central Utah in 2010.

Since the accident, 29-year-old Sharp said she has also struggled with arthritis, chronic pain, nerve damage and difficulty maintaining her potassium levels, which has meant she’s in the emergency room about twice a month.

“It’s horrible to think that ‘oh my insurance may be taken away and now I have to enter into surgery that is extremely risky; it could go wrong,’” said Sharp.

The reworked plan would roll back much of former President Barack Obama’s health care law and include alterations to a prohibition in the Affordable Car Act that prohibited insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems.

Lawmakers added some money to the bill to help people with pre-existing conditions afford coverage, a last-minute addition that helped the measure make it through the House. But experts said the change may be too small to make much difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for these patients.

Murray resident Jake Martinez, 32, said he’s worried about getting health insurance in the future since he has epilepsy, considered a pre-existing condition by insurers.

For the last several years, he, his wife and their three children have settled into a comfortable place using health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. But now they are worried about what may happen with this new health care bill.

“Today, it really kind of sunk in that not only are we not going to potentially have health care coverage, but that it was done as a political win rather than a well-thought out plan,” said Jake Martinez, a former chef who is studying social work. “That’s what stings about it.”

Representatives Rob Bishop, Jason Chaffetz, Chris Stewart and Mia Love all released statements Thursday expressing their support of the new health bill.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz said that the Affordable Care Act has raised premiums to an unaffordable level and that the new health care plan is “the right first step towards fixing a complex and crumbling system.”

Rep. Chris Stewart said that the bill will not only help to reduce costs, it could also help to protect people with pre-existing conditions.

Utah Democrats said Republicans supporting the measure “became a death squad for thousands of Utahns and millions of Americans” who will no longer be able to afford insurance or health care.

“Today the Republican Party did exactly what they’ve accused Democrats of doing with Obamacare in 2010 - they rammed a flawed health care bill through without proper vetting, collaboration, or the support of the American People,” Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon said in a statement.

Opponents of the House Republican bill planned to rally in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday night.

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