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How 4 Americans say Obamacare helped or hurt them

7/2/2017, 7:14 p.m.
As Senate Republicans have picked up efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, Americans have taken to social media and ...
Obamacare navigator Jekisha Elliot helps Geremen Teklehaimanot sign up for health insurance in Baltimore Jen Christensen/CNN

— As Senate Republicans have picked up efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, Americans have taken to social media and elsewhere to share stories of how they believe Obamacare has helped them or hurt them.

The 2010 health care reform law has long been polarizing: Some 51% of Americans had a favorable opinion of the ACA last month, while 41% had an unfavorable view, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.

The public was more sour on Obamacare in November, when Donald Trump was elected President. About 45% had a negative view of it then, against 43% with a positive one, Kaiser says.

Here's what some people told CNN about how they say current health care laws affected them:

Ashley Ruiz: ACA and Medicaid lift me and my son

Florida resident Ashley Ruiz is grateful for Obamacare regulations and safety-net spending, not least because of otherwise crushing costs for her special-needs son.

A Medicaid-funded program fully covers Jackson, 4, because he is disabled, with a rare skull deformity and adrenal problems. He received more than $250,000 worth of care in his first 6 months, including removal of part of his skull. Another surgery put bone grafts and titanium plates in his head.

He sees dozens of specialists on a yearly basis for the deformity alone, and receives therapy for autism.

Medicaid insures about two in five children and the same share of the disabled. Medicaid existed long before Obamacare, but as part of potential ACA replacement, lawmakers are considering cutting federal Medicaid support.

It's unclear how Medicaid recipients would be affected. But Ruiz, a 29-year-old divorced mother of two, is concerned.

"I don't think people understand that when you deal with a special needs child -- once you are able to find a plan that covers you, it's such a precious commodity. I think the fear for me and any parent like me is that there's a potential that would be ripped away."

She works at a small business that gives her flexibility to care for Jackson and her older son. But the job offers no insurance, so she has no coverage.

Ruiz relied on the ACA itself when Jackson was born. She and her then-husband didn't have access to affordable insurance themselves. But because she was under 26, her stepfather's insurance covered $100,000 in costs including an emergency C-section.

Melanie Brightwell: Obamacare failed me

Melanie Brightwell says she can't afford individual insurance through the federally run exchange and keeps getting rejected for Medicaid despite making less than $12,000 annually.

Brightwell, 52, of Georgia's Peachtree City area, says she had a full-time job and insurance, but received medical services worth more than $1 million in the last two years she was insured, including two major abdominal surgeries. She was laid off in 2015, months after her last operation, from her job as a sales assistant for a media group.

She now works part time, not yet able to land something full time. The cheapest monthly premiums for individual insurance she's found, she said, ranged from $250 to $400, which she can't afford.