Couple's future -- and business -- could depend on health care vote

COVINGTON, Ky. -- Two local business owners could be among the 24 million people the Congressional Budget Office projected would be left uninsured by the American Health Care Act.

Missy and Amanda Spears run Keep Your Shirt On Covington, where they sell joke T-shirts, mugs, Cards Against Humanity expansions and other items that make it difficult to stop smiling. Both the business and Amanda's health depend on guarantees that she received through the Affordable Care Act when then-President Barack Obama signed it into law in 2010.

Amanda was born with hypokalemic periodic paralysis, a rare genetic disorder that manifests as attacks of muscle weakness and accompanying short-term cognitive problems. She said that before the Affordable Care Act's declaration that insurance companies could not charge customers more for pre-existing health conditions, she ping-ponged between periods when she was forced to pay extremely high premiums for health coverage and periods when she couldn't get insurance at all.

"It takes a whole lot of work to even be standing here right now," she said.

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Under the American Health Care Act, Republicans' proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Amanda and Missy said they won't receive as much help affording insurance and they might have to give up on their business in an effort to pay her medical bills.

"I'm still going to have to go to the ER," Amanda said. "I'm still going to have to go to these visits for the rest of my life. If (insurance) isn't there, I will probably be back into bankruptcy and lose my house."

The married couple said they were watching the ongoing debate over the Affordable Care Act's future closely and hoping for the best.

The House of Representatives had originally planned to vote on the American Health Care Act Thursday, but the vote was canceled amid resistance from the conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus. The future of the bill -- as well of that Missy and Amanda -- is in limbo.

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