Oklahoma Woman Tells GOP Lawmakers: Without Obamacare, ‘I Will Be Dead Before My 27th Birthday’


26-year-old Kendall Brown

26-year-old Kendall Brown [CREDIT: COURTESY OF KENDALL BROWN]

As the deadline approached for Congress to pass a continuing resolution to keep the government funded, Republicans refused to strike a deal unless it defunded or delayed Obamacare. Now, a week later, GOP lawmakers still seem unwilling to compromise unless they are able to dismantle some of the health reform law. One Oklahoma resident wants them to understand the human impact of that political position.

On the eve of the looming government shutdown, 26-year-old Kendall Brown published an open letter to the lawmakers who wanted to delay Obamacare for one year before agreeing to pass a funding bill. Brown didn’t mince words. “I am dying, because of the political games you are playing right now,” her op-ed began.

The Oklahoma resident explained that she was born with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that has no cure. When Brown was in college, she was removed from her mother’s health care coverage. Since her illness prevented her from being able to take a full course load, she couldn’t meet the credit requirements to qualify as a student to remain on the plan. During that time, she could only afford a limited student health plan, and she accumulated thousands of dollars in medical debt.

Once Obamacare allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ plans regardless of their academic status, Brown was able to return to her mother’s insurance. That provision of the health law was enacted at a crucial time — not long afterward, Brown needed to undergo emergency surgery to remove two feet of her intestine that had swollen shut. She wouldn’t have been able to afford the procedure otherwise.

But Brown is now 26 years old, and no longer qualifies for coverage under that Obamacare provision. Although she’s currently employed full-time at a nonprofit, the small organization can’t offer her any health benefits. She’s tried to apply for insurance plans on her own, but she’s been denied because of her pre-existing condition. She cannot currently afford the lifesaving treatment to manage her illness, a form of chemotherapy that costs $15,000 for each infusion. She is desperate to enroll in the health law’s new marketplaces so she can have the coverage she needs.

“I tell you this because I am tired of being reduced to a number, a statistic or, even worse, being described as a freeloader that wants to live off of the government health care teat,” Brown explains in her open letter. “I tell you this because if you defund Obamacare, or delay it even for one year, as you are debating today, then this will be my last letter to you. I will be dead before my 27th birthday.”

In an interview with ThinkProgress, Brown explained that she had been following the political drama in the lead-up to the current shutdown, and she decided to write her letter “out of incredible hurt and anger.”

“I don’t think that our elected officials are willfully terrible people — I think they are just so caught up in the game, so dead set on doing whatever it takes to get those votes next re-election season, that they forget that they’re talking about actual people,” the Oklahoma resident explained. “That’s what I wanted them to remember from reading my letter.”

Brown believes that Obamacare has already saved her life, because it allowed her to receive surgery while she was covered under her mother’s plan as a young adult. “Without that surgery I would have died a very painful death,” she noted. And with the law’s state-level insurance marketplaces opening to the public, Brown says her life will be saved all over again. She’ll be able to afford her medications and her regular chemotherapy treatments. She’ll hopefully be able to avoid another surgery.

But she’s still disappointed in her lawmakers. Congress ultimately failed to delay Obamacare’s marketplaces from opening for enrollment, but the federal government has still ground to a halt. And in Brown’s home state of Oklahoma, politicians are still resistant to health reform. Some Republicans continue to fight against the health law’s optional Medicaid expansion, which would help extend coverage to the state’s considerable uninsured population. Seventeen percent of Oklahoma adults don’t have health coverage.

“I am a very proud Oklahoman, and I plan to make my career and raise a family here, but I do not feel that our state elected officials are serving our best interests,” Brown told ThinkProgress, saying she’s “baffled and saddened” that her elected officials have dug in their heels against health reform.

“That, to me, is not in the spirit of being an Oklahoman,” she continued. “I grew up in a small western Oklahoma town, where you took sick neighbors casseroles and you offered to watch each other’s children. In short — you helped out your fellow man. And that’s what Obamacare is about, for me.”

This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Boehner: The Nation Will Be On ‘The Path’ To Default If Obama Doesn’t Accept GOP Demands


boehner_debtHouse Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the nation would default on its debt later this month if President Obama does not agree to GOP’s demands to cut spending and change parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Boehner agreed that the risks of defaulting would be “catastrophic,” leading credit markets to freeze, the dollar to lose its value, and interest rates to skyrocket, precipitating another financial crisis. But, he insisted that “the president is putting the nation at risk by his refusal to have a conversation”:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): Let me press that. There have been some reports that you have told your own members that you would be willing to put a debt limit on the floor that would pass with democratic votes, even if it didn’t get a majority of the republican caucus. Is that no longer true?

BOEHNER: My goal here is not to have the United States default on its debt. My goal is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and the debt up and the president’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation about this is putting our nation.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He continues to refuse to negotiate, the country is going to default?

BOEHNER: That’s the path we’re on. The president canceled his trip to Asia. I assume — he wants to have a conversation. I decided to stay here in washington this weekend. He knows what my phone number is. All he has to do is call.

Since walking away from two so-called grand bargains in 2011 — which would have reduced the deficit by increasing revenue and lowering spending on certain entitlement programs — Boehner and other Congressional leaders met with Obama to discuss the standoff on Wednesday, though no deal was reached.

As Obama continues to insist that he will only negotiate with Republicans after they re-open the federal government by passing a clean continuing resolution and raise the debt ceiling, GOP lawmakers in battleground states are seeing their poll numbers drop and veteran Republican donors are becoming “increasingly alarmed by the defiant stance of hard-line conservatives.”

This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Finally Confirmed: GOP ‘IS’ Out of Touch

GOP Report Shows Party is Out of Touch With Americans on Threats to Democracy: Money in Politics and Voter Suppression

The Republican National Committee released a report today reviewing its losses in the 2012 election cycle and laying out a roadmap for the future of the party.  People For the American Way Vice President Marge Baker released the following statement:

“This report highlights what we already knew: that the Republican party is out of touch with America. Instead of addressing the party’s anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-worker policies that voters resoundingly rejected in 2012, today’s report calls for a complete gutting of campaign finance reform – in essence calling for even more big money to be poured into our elections.  If the Republican party were listening to Americans, they would know that the country supports finding systemic solutions to the problem of unregulated money in our political system.  The answer is certainly not to gut the regulations we already have in place.  Instead, we need to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC and related cases so that we can create more effective regulations to get big money out of our democracy.

“The GOP report’s recommendations on voting rights also underscore a continuing focus on keeping certain voters from the polls.  After an election cycle overflowing with examples of discriminatory voter suppression efforts aimed at historically disenfranchised communities, the report recommends an ongoing focus on so-called  ‘ballot security training initiatives.’  This is simply another phrase for the same voter intimidation tactics used in the name of preventing supposed ‘voter fraud.’  It’s baffling that the GOP thinks it can improve its image with people of color while still working to block their access to the ballot box.

“This report is yet another example that the GOP’s ‘soul-searching’ hasn’t gotten them very far.  It’s time to refocus our efforts on getting the big money out of elections and the voters into the voting booth.”

Ready to go?

Just exactly how much lipstick have they purchased?  Maybeline and Revlon combined couldn’t make enough lipstick to take care of that pachyderm.

Yesterday— the Republican National Committee released its wide-ranging “autopsy” report called the “Growth And Opportunity Project Report.” In it, the party admits to several shortcomings that contributed to the party’s wide losses in the 2012 election. A portion of the report includes market research from voter focus groups around the country. Not surprisingly, when asked to describe Republicans, respondents said that the party was “scary,” “narrow-minded,” “out of touch,” and full of “stuffy old men.”  What’s most interesting is that the report failed to quantify just how out of touch their party has become on a number of issues, from climate change, to marriage equality, to universal background checks, to women’s rights, to the minimum wage, and more.

The GOP thinks they merely have a messaging problem … and just need to change a few words they used to talk about things.  HAH! Now that’s a joke and a half.  Maybe they should look at their 2012 Platform. Better yet, maybe they should look at what is happening in State Legislatures and what members of their party have introduced in the Congress:

  • Restricting access to or insurance reimbursement of costs associated with an abortion;
  • Restricting time frames in which a woman could seek an abortion to 12-weeks and in on case, to 6-weeks from conception;
  • Mandating the use of transvaginal ultrasounds and other medically unnecessary procedures as a means to shame women;
  • Gleefully and gloatingly defunding Planned Parenthood;
  • Attempting to elevate “religious” rights above all others to allow zealots to assert their religious rights to deny all types of service and/or medications should it offend “their” personal religious beliefs, making their beliefs superior to yours;
  • Continually attempting to repeal Obamacare and providing NO replacement;
  • Promoting continued systemic discrimination against the LGBT community, as a whole, via marriage inequality espoused throughout our Nation’s income tax and estate tax structures;
  • Attempting to enact one voter suppression tactic after another to disenfranchise voters as well as restricting early voting opportunities;
  • Continually filibustering one bill after another, even those introduced by Republicans;
  • Blocking Consumer Financial Protection and making multiple attempts to repeal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform;
  • Promoting racial profiling as a means of harassment to convince Hispanics to “self-deport’ ;
  • Promoting Personhood for embryos and essentially demoting women’s status to nothing more than an incubator;
  • Replacing Democracy with Dictatorships (Overseers);
  • Promoting fatherhood visitation rights for rapists.

I’m sure I’ve missed of few other big issues we’ve had to overcome … but need I go on?  There’s a politically incorrect term we frequently used when I was in the Navy to define that kind of behavior.  The term stars with “cluster.”  The GOPs (Grouchy Old Patriarchs) problem is much more than a “messaging” problem.  It’s a policy problem and we should cheer them on  in pursuit of their messaging delusion.  It will most certainly shorten their path to minor party status.  We may have a few challenges to overcome in the short run, but we’ll all be much better off in the long run.

Don’t believe me?  See for yourself,  take your pick, click a pic or two.  Read/compare a few — then compare the numbers.

2012-GOP-Platform GOP Growth Opportunity Rpt 2009-GOP-Road-to-Recovery 2010-GOP-Better-Solutions
GOP 2012 Platform GOP Growth Opportunites 2009 Path to Recovery 2010-Better Solutions
2010-Pledge-to-America Path to Poverty v1.0 Path to Poverty v2.0 Path to Poverty v3.0
2010-Pledge to America P2P v1.0 P2P v2.0 P2P v3.0

A Plea from Senator Bernie Sanders

July 14, 2011
Friends of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders

Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, speaking April 13, 2011 at a GOP fundraiser in Burlington, VT: “You’ve got a guy here by the name of Bernie Sanders that’s a whole lot like a guy named Russ Feingold, who was defeated by somebody named Ron Johnson from Wisconsin.  You can do it here.  Just like Russ Feingold got beat in Wisconsin, Bernie Sanders can get beat [in Vermont].”  According to one media report, Priebus’ comment drew huge applause.

This is a remarkable moment in American history.

The United States currently faces more serious challenges than at any time since the Great Depression.  This is true whether one looks at our economy, health care, foreign policy, infrastructure, national debt, education or environment.

I wanted to take this opportunity to give you an update as to what I’m trying to do here in Washington as well as the state of my campaign for re-election as Vermont’s senator.  It is my strong belief that, working together, we must do everything we can to fight for our progressive values and make sure that we leave our children and grandchildren a world in which they can flourish.  The right-wing political agenda must be defeated.  As, perhaps, the most progressive member of the Senate, I am also writing to ask for your political and financial support for my re-election.

Today, actual unemployment is over 15 percent.  Median family income has declined by $2,500 during the last decade and millions of workers are now forced to work at wages that are lower than they used to earn.  (For example, new employees in the auto industry are now receiving 50 percent less than what older workers receive).  More and more middle-class families are rapidly descending into poverty as they lose their jobs, their homes, their savings and their retirement benefits.

Meanwhile, while the middle class disappears and poverty increases, the wealthiest people in this country and largest corporations are doing extremely well.  Today, the top one percent earns over 20 percent of all income – more than the bottom 50 percent.  Incredibly, the richest 400 individuals in America own more wealth than the bottom 150 million. And this horrendous gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider every day.  While the CEOs on Wall Street who helped cause this recession are now doing just fine, the rate of childhood poverty in this country is the highest in the industrialized world, and continues to grow.

Watch: MSNBC- Dylan Ratigan Show – Sanders on stalled debt talks

But it’s not just unemployment and low wages.  Fifty million Americans lack health insurance, we remain involved in two wars, our infrastructure is crumbling and we are falling further and further behind other countries in student achievement and college enrollment.  Tragically, we have not passed any significant legislation to address the planetary crisis of global warming.  Incredibly, despite huge and visible aberrations in weather patterns there is not even serious discussion that we may be approaching a tipping point which would impact the future of our planet and the well-being of billions of people.

As you know, many of these issues are coming to a head in the huge and contentious debate that is currently taking place in Washington over deficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling.  The Republicans, dominated by their extreme right-wing Tea Party members, have passed one of the cruelest budgets ever seen in Congress – the so-called Ryan budget.  Under that plan, Medicare as we know it would be ended, and there would be massive cuts to Medicaid, education and children’s needs, environmental protection, nutrition and food stamps, medical research, affordable housing and virtually every program that low and moderate Americans depend upon.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that the rich and large corporations are doing very well and enjoy huge tax breaks, the Republicans are using the issue of raising the debt ceiling – something this nation has done over 80 times, seven of them under George W. Bush – to push their reactionary agenda on the nation.  They are adamant about making sure that the wealthy and powerful do not contribute one penny more toward deficit reduction. They want all the sacrifices to be made by the elderly, the children, the sick and the most vulnerable people in our country.  The rich get richer – and they receive tax breaks.  Working families get poorer – and they receive major cuts in programs they desperately need.  The Defense Department’s budget has soared in recent years – and they get more.  That’s the Republican logic.

I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see.  He is not.  In my view, he is compromising far too much with right-wing Republicans and is not rallying the American people around an effective and fair deficit reduction proposal that would demand that the wealthy and large corporations contribute at least fifty percent toward deficit reduction, and that there be significant cuts in military spending as well.

Instead, he is proposing three dollars in cuts to every dollar in increased revenue and only modest cuts in defense spending.  Most incredibly, despite campaign assurances to the contrary, he has embraced the long-held Republican dream of making major cuts in Social Security and raising the eligibility age for Medicare.

Where do we go from here?  Please let the President know, by email, phone or letter, that he must not cut Social Security or raise the eligibility age for Medicare.  Please let him know that the American people will back him if he demands that corporate America and the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes so that we can move to deficit reduction without decimating programs that working families desperately need.

In terms of my campaign for re-election I am proud that we have already raised campaign contributions from tens of thousands of Americans from every state in the country.  While these campaign contributions, on average, are small and it is difficult and expensive to raise funds in this way, I am proud of what we have achieved so far and the fact that over 34,000 individuals have contributed to my campaign this cycle.  My concern, however, is that the absurd Citizens United Supreme Court decision has opened the flood gates for special interest and right-wing money.  The Big Money interests that I have vigorously opposed could throw millions of dollars into Vermont any time they want.  And I expect they will do that.  This is why we need to be well-prepared financially and why I need your help.

These are tough times, but despair is not an option.  The fight must continue, not just for ourselves but for the well-being of future generations and for the very future of the planet that we inhabit.  Together, we WILL defeat the right-wing threat and their big money backers and we will move this country forward toward economic and social justice, peace and environmental sanity.