A Staten Island, N.Y. woman says since signing up for new health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, she has lost all her doctors, and her insurance card has been repeatedly denied for prescriptions.
Margaret Figueroa, 49, of Arden Heights, suffers from two chronic illnesses, a rare neurological disorder called Arnold Chiari malformation and syringomyelia. She takes five different medications several times a day, some of which help to slow nerve damage.
She signed up for health insurance through the state marketplace in January, and although she has an insurance card, pharmacies keep telling her it's denied. Emblem Health says she’s covered and her policy is in force, but the internal paperwork appears to be unfiled.
In the last three months she’s been suffering excruciating pain, withdrawal and immobility.
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She also lost her long-term doctors, who don’t accept her new insurance plan. She says only six doctors in the borough accept her new plan.
"It's hard," Figueroa said tearfully.
"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," she said at a press conference at Rep. Michael Grimm's, R-Staten Island/Brooklyn, office on Wednesday.
Grimm’s office was able to intervene and get Figueroa refills for some of her medications on April 1.
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"Even though the insurance company cashed your check, it doesn't mean it (the policy) has been implemented," said Grimm. "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," Grimm added. "Obamacare wasn't ready for prime time."