Washington, D.C— Beneficiaries of Obamacare from across the United States shared their stories Friday, demonstrating how health care reform already has made a difference in their lives and how the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Affordable Care Act will positively impact millions of Americans.
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Ross Daniels of West Des Moines, Iowa, detailed in a national telephone press conference call how he and his wife, Amy Ward, were saved by the ACA’s ban on capping lifetime benefits. After vacationing in rural Minnesota, Amy developed blastomycosis, a life-threatening fungal pneumonia that affects roughly one in 100,000 people who are exposed to it. She spent weeks in a coma and endured a number of surgeries and is still recovering. Because of health care reform, the family did not lose their house or life savings and did not have to file for bankruptcy. Her medical expenses have exceeded $1.4 million; before the ACA, her benefits were capped at $1 million.
“Amy and I now, more than ever feel personally obligated to share our story in the hope that by doing so, Americans will finally begin to put real, human, names, faces, and stories with a law that has already benefited, and will continue to benefit millions of middle class, and struggling Americans, while separating out the truth of the law from the distortions,” Daniels said. “Distortions characterized by words like “socialized medicine, death panels, and a government takeover of the health system.”
Irene Grand of Strafford, New Hampshire, discussed how, as a breast cancer survivor, she will be covered by health insurance even if her cancer returns. “Opponents to this law say it takes away our freedom, but that is not true. As a breast cancer survivor and the mother of two daughters, this law gave me freedom,” she said. “The freedom I am talking about is the freedom from fear – the fear of losing my health insurance, the fear that my daughters will be denied healthcare benefits due to their family history, the fear that I could lose everything I have ever worked for due to medical bills.”
Dell Erwin of Charlottesville, Virginia, laid out how health care reform has helped three generations of her family members. “As a person who has benefited from this law, I am ecstatic that the Supreme Court decided to uphold it,” she said. “I won’t have to worry about my 7-year-old grandson being denied insurance because of heart surgery at age 5. I am grateful that my college granddaughter can stay on her parents’ plan until she’s 26. My son, a small business owner, can affordably provide insurance to his employees, and his own burdensome insurance premiums for his family will decrease. I will not have to pay for expensive medications, as I did when my cancer medications cost me $400 out of pocket monthly. This law has helped me and my family, and it’s the right thing for all Americans. This is a victory for everyone.”
And 13-year-old Marcelas Owens, whose mother died, unable to afford health care after getting so sick that she lost her job and her insurance, recalls standing next to President Obama when he signed health care reform. “I’m happy because all of the generations of hard work paid off,” Marcelas said. “I know now that no one else will have to go through what I did because everyone will have access to health care when they need it.”
In the run-up to Thursday’s Supreme Court decision, USAction collected nearly 2,000 stories from members who described how they have benefited from health care reform. “These stories are not extraordinary,” said Jeff Blum, USAction executive director. “Indeed, there are millions of Americans who have similar stories to tell. We believe the more America hears these stories – of friends, neighbors and loved ones receive quality, affordable health care due to what Congress passed and the President signed – the more popular health care reform will be.”
Still, proponents of the ACA warn that challenges remain, particularly in states with governors who are hostile to reform. Robert Kraig, executive director of USAction affiliate Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said nearly a half dozen states, including Wisconsin, are flat-out refusing to implement the law. He said Gov. Scott Walker, both before and after the Supreme Court ruling, has stated his intention to resist. “Governor Walker’s bellicose position on health care reform makes him look like the segregationist governors of the 1960s who were refusing to enforce civil rights laws,” Kraig said.
USAction is a federation of 22 state affiliates that organize for a more just America. With our state partners, we build broad coalitions to win progressive campaigns that enrich people’s lives.