Repealing The Affordable Care Act: A matter of life or death

Republicans have already started the process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it's often called. But what will it be replaced with? And what happens to the millions who depend on the current coverage? Local 15's Andrea Ramey reports on one man who says repealing Obamacare could literally kill him.

Every month, Greg Silverman picks up his prescription. It's a drug called Samsca.

"It's kind of like every month when I open my pills, I feel like a man that might be on death row. Counting the days until he dies. Every time I take that pill, I think I'm one day closer. One day closer," said Silverman.

He suffers from an extremely rare disease called Hyponatremia.

"Basically it means my body does not absorb salt. It expels all of the sodium that I do intake," said Silverman.

Samsca keeps him alive, by raising the sodium levels in his blood. It's a special drug, only available. from Japan, and it's far from affordable.

"This medication is $15,000 a month, roughly, for 30 pills to save my life. It's obviously saving my life," said Silverman.

The $180,000 a year for these pills is paid for by Silverman’s insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Lately, Silverman has been parked in front of cable news. Watching and worrying as Congress prepares to replace Obamacare with something else, something he's afraid won't pay for his medicine.

"The fear is that I die five days after my medicine runs out," said Silverman.

Admittedly, his is an extreme example, but he knows there are many others are afraid of what will happen if Obamacare goes away.

"We need that. That's something that we need," said James Young.

"There's not going to be a gap in coverage for anyone and that's the key thing," said Representative Bradley Byrne.

Byrne says Republicans are currently working on the details for a replacement but says those with pre-existing conditions will not be denied.

"We are going to deal with preexisting illnesses through big pools of people that states already have. It's just going to enhance them a lot so that people who have preexisting conditions who can can't get insurance through a regular method can go through these pools, and they will be subsidized to make sure they're affordable," said Byrne.

Byrne also says Republicans plan to still allow dependents up to age 26 to stay on their parents plans, and they want to open up the market, allowing people to purchase plans across state lines.

"Once you get to full implementation on the other side, I think you'll be better off because you'll have far more choices," said Byrne.

Still, Silverman worries, what if his life saving drug isn't covered?

"I've tried every option I can to figure out if the Affordable Care Act is repealed to be able to pay for my medicine and I'm at my wits end. It's just too high of a number for people to understand," said Silverman. "I would be one of the first casualties, if they do repeal it, because I have a five-day window from the time my medicine is stopped until the time I die."