By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — As many as 260,000 Maryland residents could see higher premiums or lose their health care coverage altogether because of pre-existing medical conditions, age or gender under a new Trump administration legal strategy, state Democrats warned on Tuesday.

Barbara Gruber is a 60-year-old woman born with asthma who has a coronary artery disease and auto-immune disorders and is relying on medication to stay alive.

“Premiums rose each year as they always do until they exceeded 30 percent of my income,” Gruber said. “I didn’t have the money and it was going to be the first time I would not have health insurance. Then the ACA became law and for the first time health costs were not over 50 percent of my income,”

Gruber stood with members of Maryland’s congressional delegation as a living example of who ACA, the Affordable Care Act, has helped and who stands to lose if its protections are invalidated.

Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings sees that risk ahead as the Trump administration moves to take ACA apart.

“We put in place protections for people with pre-existing conditions when we passed the Affordable Care Act,” Cummings said. “These protections were incredibly popular. Poll after poll shows the American people support those protections overwhelmingly,”

The Trump administration claims that changes in the tax law that eliminate the collection of fines from those who fail to provide proof of insurance next year should also do away with provisions that guarantee coverage.

Over a quarter million Marylanders are at risk, a number resulting from a study prepared for Congressman Cummings by staff on the committee of oversight and government reform.

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