Virginians to Cuccinelli: Protect, Don’t Deny, Our Health Care
Community Leaders Call for Court to Uphold the Law, Allowing 7 Million Virginians Access to Health Care and Protection from Insurance Company Abuses
Richmond, VA – The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral arguments on Tuesday, May 10, 2011, in the case of Commonwealth of Virginia v. Sebelius, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The case was heard concurrently with arguments in Liberty University v. Geithner, a separate challenge to the law brought by Liberty University.
Prior to Tuesday’s hearing on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Families USA, Virginia Organizing (formerly Virginia Organizing Project) and community members directly helped by the health care law voiced their opposition to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s attempt to block national health care reform.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule on the hearing in the next several weeks, and eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to finally resolve the legal questions raised in this, and numerous cases, filed around the country. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to bypass the appeals process and have the case heard immediately by the Supreme Court.
Since passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Virginia Organizing has been educating the public on what the national health care law will mean for Virginians. Virginia Organizing is one of many groups to file an amicus brief with the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court supporting the federal health care law and opposing Attorney General Cuccinelli’s attempts to block reform. Community leaders and health care advocates spoke out today on the need to uphold the law and implement health care reform as soon as possible.
Ray Scher, Virginia Organizing Health Care Committee:
As a former nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, residential nursing home inspector and registered nurse, I applaud the passage of this legislation into law and have joined with Virginia Organizing to fight for its implementation in Virginia. I am here today because we believe that Attorney General Cuccinelli and Governor McDonnell’s attempts to block the health care law are shortsighted.
Without the health care law, a million Virginians will be left out in the cold, without insurance, playing the odds with medical and financial catastrophe and in the end, the insured will foot the bill. Right now, the average American family with insurance pays over $1,000 a year in higher premiums to cover the cost of care for the uninsured.
Lets stop using scarce public resources to pursue a lawsuit that is contrary to the best interests of Virginia taxpayers and consumers. I implore the Attorney General and Governor McDonnell to instead focus on making sure all Virginians have the protection of affordable health insurance.
Larry Kim, UVA Student Helped by the Health Care Law:
By the time I was 22 years old, I had almost died on multiple occasions due to liver failure and other health problems. I was neither bitter nor angry at my unfortunate health condition, I was simply thankful to be alive. And I felt like I was alive for a reason– and that was to prevent others from going through what I went through with our health care system.
A little over six months after the signing of the health care law, I have already been helped by the provision allowing young people to go back on their parents’ health care plan. At the same time, I was also helped by a provision calling for an end to lifetime caps, and a provision ensuring that preventative care would be covered by health insurance. In 2014, the health care law will ensure that health care consumers like myself can no longer be denied due to “pre-existing conditions,” which is a provision that will directly affect me in countless ways.
Health is a very funny thing. One day you can be in the best of health, enjoying the company of your friends and family. And then suddenly, you could be lying in the hospital bed deciding whether or not you want a 50-something-year old man’s liver inside of you. I know it sounds a bit far fetched, but it happened to me, a healthy 17 year old with no prior medical history. So it most certainly can happen to any American. Everyone in his or her lifetime, at one point or another, is a consumer of our health care system. Sure, some use it more than others, but we all should have a vested interest in improving our broken health care system. And that is why I am here today, to support the health care law, our best chance in 80 years at fixing a broken system I know all too well.
Dell Erwin, Senior and Grandmother Benefiting from the Health Care Law.
My name is Dell Erwin and I live in Charlottesville. I am here today because I strongly support the health care law and want to ensure that it is fully implemented and given time to work. My health and the health of my family depend on the health care law. The new health care law has already started to benefit my family and myself.
As a breast cancer survivor, the medications I take to keep me in remission cost over $600 per month. As a senior, I have Medicare Part D, which covers half of my medications. By June, like many seniors, I fall in the dreaded Part D donut hole. That means that Medicare no longer pays anything for medications the rest of the year.
One of the many reasons that I support the health care law is that in ten years, it will close that Donut Hole. In the meantime, many seniors who struggle to afford their prescriptions have already received a $250 check for a prescription drug rebate. Because of the health care law, the Donut hole will shrink. This June, I will automatically receive 50% off my cancer medication.
But the benefits of the health care law for my family are the ones I am most excited about. The most important part for my family is the end to pre-existing conditions, especially for children. My six-year-old grandson Tucker can no longer be denied due to pre-existing conditions and we no longer have to worry about him getting covered.
Tucker is a healthy, active six year old but last summer; he had open-heart surgery to repair a congenital heart defect. It was a comfort to know that we did not have to worry about him having health insurance coverage. Having a child or grandchild with a serious heart defect is scary enough without having to worry about whether he will have the care he needs.
No one should have to go through the trauma of having a sick child and then worrying about whether their health care will be covered or whether they will ever be eligible for insurance again in their lives. And now, thanks to the health care law no one will ever have to go through that again.
Kevin Wilson, Richmond Small Business Owner Helped by Health Care Law
I am the owner of two local restaurants: the Cellar Door and Sticky To-Go-Go. Like most small business owners, health insurance premiums are a huge expense at a time when many of us are still struggling due to the economic downturn. I look at the health care law as an opportunity to level the playing field so that small businesses can compete, not only at the global level, but with corporations who have enormous buying power when it comes to health insurance premiums. Thanks to the health care law, small business owners will be able to come together in the exchange and purchase affordable health insurance for our employees and our families.
Many small business owners like myself are already seeing the benefits of the health care law through small business tax credits. I received tax credits last year that helped me afford rising premiums for my 25 employees. While many politicians pay lip service to small business owners, few have had the courage to address one of the biggest issues facing us: health insurance costs. The health care law is a great step in the right direction towards lowering premiums for small business owners so that we can focus on what’s important: running our businesses and creating jobs.
How the Affordable Care Act Helps the People of Virginia
Virginians are already benefiting from the ACA: young adults have returned to their parents' health insurance policies, adults are accessing the high-risk pool, and pre-existing condition limits for children have been eliminated. Virginia Organizing is interested in keeping those benefits and in accessing the additional reforms and improvements contained in the ACA legislation.
Cracks Down on Insurance Company Abuses
• Insurers will no longer be able to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition or drop your coverage when you get sick.
• Insurers will no longer be able to charge higher premiums based on your gender or health status.
• Virginians have been paying more for coverage and getting less. Insurers finally will be required to spend more of our premium dollars on actual medical care and quality measures.
Ends Runaway Premiums for the Middle Class
• Uninsured Virginians will be able to gain coverage through a competitive marketplace called an “exchange.” By forcing insurance companies to compete, exchanges will drive down costs, guarantee choice, and put consumers in control.
• People with moderate incomes (for example, a family of four making up to $88,000) will get help paying their premiums.
Provides Financial Security and Stability
• All of Virginia’s 1,072,000 seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare will no longer have to pay for preventive services, and many will have more help paying for prescriptions.
• Health reform will set limits on how much families will have to spend on health care out of their own pockets (on copayments, deductibles, etc.).
• Insurers will no longer be able to put yearly or lifetime limits on how much they will pay for your care if you get sick.
• Health reform will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion in the next 10 years and will save $1.2 trillion more in the following two decades.
Expands Coverage, Saves Lives
• Young adults can stay on their parents’ health plans up to the age of 26.
• Health reform will save lives. Without reform, an estimated 5,600 Virginians will die prematurely due to a lack of health coverage over the next decade.
• 724,000 uninsured Virginians will gain insurance coverage by 2019.
Virginia Organizing is a statewide grassroots organization that brings people together to create a more just Virginia.www.virginia-organizing.org