Don't Repeal Progress
All across Virginia, residents who stand to lose their health care if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, spoke out on the need to protect the law.
Virginia Organizing supporters gathered in Virginia Beach, Fredericksburg, Newport News, Harrisonburg, Staunton Charlottesville and Richmond to share their stories of how they have personally benefited from the law. They illustrated how the law is already helping millions of Virginians and called upon the Supreme Court to uphold the law and for Virginia politicians to stop blocking further implementation.
Dell Erwin and her grandsons at Charlottesville protest
Breast cancer survivor and Medicare recipient Dell Erwin spoke in Charlottesville on the need to protect the ACA for seniors. “The medications I take to keep me in remission cost over $600 per month. Like many seniors, I am in the dreaded ‘Donut Hole.’One of the many reasons that I support the health care law is that in ten years, it will close that Donut Hole,” said Erwin. “In the meantime, many seniors who struggle to afford their prescriptions have already received a $250 check for a prescription drug rebate. This June, I will automatically receive 50 percent off my cancer medication.”
Erwin also praised the ACA for ending the health insurance industry practice of discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions. Her seven year-old grandson Tucker had open-heart surgery and faced a lifetime of discrimination due to his pre-existing heart condition. “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,” she added.
Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, Attorney General Cuccinelli has consistently opposed the new law. The Attorney General recently remarked that he would continue to block the health care law even if the Supreme Court upholds it, citing the fact that “there are no criminal penalties” for non-compliance. However, at a town hall meeting on March 21 in Martinsville he back-peddled on ignoring the law once it is upheld.
Virginia Organizing spoke out against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s attempts to block the law, which has allowed 53,900 young Virginians to go back on their parents’ health insurance. Without the ACA, Arianne Waschler, a 23 year-old grad student at VCU would have been kicked off her parents’ plan at age 22, a scary prospect for a young woman who battled anorexia as a teen.
“Thanks to the new law, I have the piece of mind that I can stay on my parents’ plan while I search for a job and attend grad school,” said Waschler.
A Better Budget for Virginia
Virginia Organizing joined a chorus of other advocacy organizations from across the state to urge lawmakers to put families first in their budget negotiations. The proposed House and Senate budgets gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to corporate special interests and the 1% while Virginia families are left behind.
The Fredericksburg Chapter spoke out against the proposed cuts-only budget with a forum, while Virginia Organizing leaders from across the state wrote letters to the editor, made phone calls and visited with their legislators.
Conservative legislators proposed severely underfunding public education, spending $400 million less than five years ago even though student enrollment is on the rise. At the same time they wanted to give away $25 million dollars in private school tax credits.
Medicaid cuts proposed by conservatives would eliminate over 4,500 seniors from long-term care programs while the same budget hands out $40 million in tax credits to coal companies. Meanwhile, over 60% of Virginia corporations pay no income taxes.
After weeks of negotiations, the State Senate finally passed a budget that, while not perfect, better responds to the needs and priorities of Virginia’s families. It is now up to budget conferees to determine the details.
A Better Budget for America
House Republicans (including Rep. Eric Cantor, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Frank Wolf, Rep. Robert Hurt, Rep. Randy Forbes, Rep. Rob Wittman, Rep. Scott Rigell and Rep. Morgan Griffiths) approved Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget that punishes the poor while giving even more tax breaks to the wealthy. This budget plan aims to privatize Medicare, cuts Social Security administration and slashes food stamps.
“House Republicans seem to have no idea that there are poor people in America who will suffer even more if this budget is implemented,” said Sandra Cook, Chairperson of Virginia Organizing.
Ryan’s budget also threatens the future of our retirement security by slashing Social Security benefits for middle-class seniors and people with disabilities. And it will change Medicare into a voucher system, making it more costly for anyone who participates.
“As a person with a disability, I rely on Medicare and Social Security for my livelihood. Rep. Ryan's budget could take away my health care and income. The Ryan budget puts people like me on a path to poverty, while the wealthy will continue on the 'path to prosperity,'" added Cook.