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.

Why Are American Health Care Costs So High?

By the incomparable John Green, who says the following about his sources: “For a much more thorough examination of health care expenses in America, I recommend this series at The Incidental Economist and The Commonwealth Fund’s Study of Health Care Prices in the U.S. Some of the stats in this video also come from this New York Times story.”

Under the Reading Lamp — April 12, 2012

The Choice in 2012: Social Darwinism or a Decent Society
imageRobert Reich, Robert Reich’s Blog: “[Obama] kicked off his 2012 campaign against Mitt Romney with a hard-hitting speech centered on the House Republicans’ budget plan – which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed. That plan, by the way, is the most radical reverse-Robin Hood proposal propounded by any political party in modern America. It would save millionaires at least $150,000 a year in taxes while gutting Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, transportation, child nutrition, college aid, and almost everything else average and lower-income Americans depend on.”
Five Preposterous, Persistent Conservative Myths
by Paul Buchheit, Common Dreams: With the mainstream media in the hands of the mostly conservative wealthy, it’s difficult for average Americans to learn the truth about critical issues. The following five conservative claims are examples of mythical beliefs that fall apart in the presence of inconvenient facts.
Labor Organizing as a Civil Right
Richard D. Kahlenberg, Moshe Z. Marvit, Dissent Magazine: “It is time for supporters of labor to try an approach to reforming labor laws … and instead focus on the fact that labor organizing should be written into our civil rights laws. The result of an amendment to the Civil Rights Act would be significant: just as it is now illegal to fire or discipline someone for race or gender or national origin or religion, it would be illegal under the Civil Rights Act to fire or discipline someone for trying to organize or join a union.”
Pregnancy, Sexual Congress and the (In)Visibility of Men
Ellen Dannin, Truthout: “When it comes to being an expert on birth control and women’s sexuality, men are apparently the experts, the go-to guys. Men are twice as likely as women to be pundits on birth control on cable news, and men were the sole panelists when birth control was discussed in Congress. However, except for commenting on women’s sexuality, and testifying, legislating, and deciding who can or cannot have birth control and who can or cannot terminate a pregnancy, men are invisible.”
Unmasking the GOP’s Faith-Based Economics
Faith based economicsJohn Kane, Truthout: “From Ron Paul to Mitt Romney, politicians consistently employ their own framing of why the economy is performing poorly, and thus, promote a consistent remedy for how to improve it. Government doesn’t need to do more, they contend, it needs to do less – less regulating, less spending, less taxing. They believe in these solutions, I argue, not necessarily because of some secret allegiance to the rich, but because of their longstanding blind faith in the ability of the so-called ‘free market’ to correct economic problems on its own.”
Whose Recovery? Many Americans Remain in Critical Condition
by Robert Reich, Common Dreams: The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the economy grew at a 3 percent annual rate last quarter (far better than the measly 1.8 percent third quarter growth). Personal income also jumped. Americans raked in over $13 trillion, $3.3 billion more than previously thought. Yet it’s almost a certainly that all the gains went to the top 10 percent, and the lion’s share to the top 1 percent. Over a third of the gains went to 15,600 super-rich households in the top one-tenth of one percent.
The Best Congress the Banks’ Money Can Buy
by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, Common Dreams: Here we go again. Another round of the game we call Congressional Creep. After months of haggling and debate, Congress finally passes reform legislation to fix a serious rupture in the body politic, and the President signs it into law. But the fight’s just begun, because the special interests immediately set out to win back what they lost when the reform became law.
The Assault on Public Education
Noam Chomsky, Truthout: “Public education is under attack around the world, and in response, student protests have recently been held in Britain, Canada, Chile, Taiwan and elsewhere…. ‘In most states,’ The New York Times reports, ‘it is now tuition payments, not state appropriations, that cover most of the budget,’ so that ‘the era of affordable four-year public universities, heavily subsidized by the state, may be over.’ Community colleges increasingly face similar prospects – and the shortfalls extend to grades K-12.”
USGS Report implicates oil and natural gas drilling, aka fracking
Is your home insured for earthquake damage? It’s a special rider you need to purchase to cover such damage, and it they’re fracking anywhere near your home, well you might need to purchase such a rider. A US Geological Survey research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies. A U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research team has linked oil and natural gas drilling operations to a series of recent earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies. (Image: EcoWatch.org). According to the study led by USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth, the spike in earthquakes since 2001 near oil and gas extraction operations is “almost certainly man-made.” The research team cites underground injection of drilling wastewater as a possible cause.
Autism and Disappearing Bees: A Common Denominator?
by Brian Moench, Common Dreams: A few days ago the Salt Lake Tribune’s front page headline declared, “Highest rate in the nation, 1 in 32 Utah boys has autism.” This is a national public health emergency, whose epicenter is Utah, Gov. Herbert. A more obscure story on the same day read: “New pesticides linked to bee population collapse.” If you eat food, and hope to do so in the future, this is another national emergency, Pres. Obama. A common denominator may underlie both headlines.
Report: Worldwide Opposition to Monsanto

“Farmers worldwide are resisting for food sovereignty, but the rest of the world must join us.”

A report released today shows that worldwide opposition to the biotechnology giant Monsanto and “the agro-industrial model that it represents” is growing. “This new report documents the intense opposition to this powerful transnational company, which peddles its genetically modified products seemingly without regard for the associated social, economic and environmental costs,” said Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme coordinator.

SCOTUS Invalidates Breast Cancer Gene Patents
SCOTUS Invalidates Breast Cancer Gene PatentsThe Supreme Court set aside a lower court ruling that allowed a company to patent two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer and limit access to potentially life-saving genetic tests for at risk-women, giving women a rare victory over corporate interests and continuing a promising line of decisions that refuses to corporatize human genetics.
A Very Sick Country by David Michael Green, Common Dreams:
It looks now like the regressive majority on the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement, his health care bill. That is so fitting. More than that, it is also a reminder of just how sick this country truly is. Imagine that the lab returned the results from your battery of blood work tests, and all the indicators were screaming out “Danger!” and “Broken!”. That’s us, baby. Get this patient to the ER!
Partisan Rulings on Strip Searches and Citizens United Could Put Supreme Court on Trial in 2012 (Video)
Rachel Maddow, The Rachel Maddow Show: “Rachel Maddow reviews the details of a controversial 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on strip searches.”
Watch the Video
The Real Costs of War
Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co.: “Most discussion about the ‘costs of war’ focuses on two numbers: dollars spent and American troops who gave their lives. A decade into the war on terror, those official costs are over a trillion dollars and more than 6,000 dead. But as overwhelming as those numbers are, they don’t tell the full story. In one of the most comprehensive studies available, researchers in the Eisenhower Study Group at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies looked at the human, economic, social and political costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as our military actions in Pakistan.”
U.S. Corporate Tax Rate Much Lower Than Most Other Developed Nations
imagePat Garofalo, ThinkProgress: “Republicans have been kvetching about the fact that, as of Sunday, the U.S. will have the highest statutory corporate tax rate in the world following a scheduled cut in Japan’s corporate tax. ‘The United States is a world leader in countless ways. ‘World’s Highest Taxes’ is a title we should give up as soon as possible,’ wrote Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in a Fox News op-ed…. The U.S. both taxes its corporations less and raises less in revenue from corporate taxes than its foreign competitors.”
Stripped of Protection, Wolves Face ‘Second Extermination’ in US
Wildlife advocates are outraged by photos that show a captured wolf being tortured by a Forest Service employee in Idaho. The Center for Biological Diversity sent letters to both the Forest Service and Idaho Attorney General, Lawrence Wasden, today requesting investigations into the actions of Josh Bransford, who posted photos of a wolf he had trapped in northern Idaho that had been maliciously and non-fatally shot by people who spotted the animal from a nearby road.

Ryan’s P2P Just Another Salvo in GOP’s War Against Women

This week, the GOP-dominated Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments about whether the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should be thrown out as unconstitutional, and the GOP-dominated U.S. House is debating Rep. Paul Ryan’s Path to Poverty budget proposal which would repeal all provisions of the PPACA and return everything to the way it was before it was enacted.

“Women continue to face unfair and discriminatory practices when obtaining health insurance in the individual market—as well as in the group health insurance market.  Women are charged more for health coverage simply because they are women, and individual market health plans often exclude coverage for services that only women need, like maternity care. Furthermore, insurance companies—despite being aware of these discriminatory practices—have not voluntarily taken steps to eliminate the inequities.  While some states have outlawed or limited these practices, only when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented in 2014 will they end nationally.” — National Women’s Law Center

If either attack succeeds, women can kiss that 2014 promise of medical premium equality goodbye and expect to continue paying far more for the same health insurance policy than any man would have to pay.  If you’re a woman, and you don’t believe you’re nothing more than a pre-existing condition to be denied and overcharged, then you need to get busy.  If REPEAL is not what you want to see happen, then you need to learn all you can learn about the PPACA debate.  You need to write/call your representatives in Congress expressing your disapproval, and you need to encourage everyone in your circle of friends to actively stand against repeal.

If the Supreme Court decides to strike down the PPACA, women (and Americans, in general) will need to watch carefully to see what other pieces of legislation are adversely affected by the Court’s action.


Ryan’s Path to Poverty — The Numbers

Okay … I went back and pulled out my last summary of version 1.0 of the Ryan “Path to Prosperity” budget and added in the figures he’s proposing in his “version 2.0” of the Path to Prosperity.  It’s startling.  Before you start down through the figures, there are probably a few terms you should understand:

  1. Budget authority is the legal authority to incur financial obligations that will result in immediate or future outlays of federal government funds.
  2. Obligations are commitments to make payments, immediately or in the future. Examples include contracts and purchase orders.
  3. An outlay is a payment (usually a check drawn on the Treasury, or in cash) by the government in fulfillment of an obligation.

While the budget bill (H.Con.Res.112) doesn’t specify the amount of obligations that have been undertaken, you’ll clearly see a difference in new budget authority and anticipated outlays that will occur during each given budget year.  All figures below are shown in millions of dollars ( number X 1,000,000).

Now, a budget is basically a statement of priorities.  I don’t agree with the GOP’s statement of priorities.  As you peruse the numbers, here are a couple of questions you should ask yourselves as to the GOP’s priorities:

  1. National Defense (050):  Do we really need to spend that much money on weapons, war, etc.?  Do you think it’s time to close down some of those foreign bases?  A large number of those basest were necessary for “cold war’ security … but really … the cold war ended during Reagan’s term.
  2. Rep. Ryan claimed during introduction of version 2 of the “Path to Prosperity” that he was leaving  Social Security alone … yet check the numbers, he’s cut back Social Security even further than he proposed under version 1.0.  Are his figures realistic given the number of baby boomers headed into retirement … or does it look to you like he’s hiding a privatization scheme in his back pocket?
  3. Rep. Ryan claimed that he needs to change the way we fund and deal with Medicare (turning it into voucher program).  Given that fact that he’s cut Medicare spending even further from his V1.0 Path … what kind of value might those vouchers have?  And, how many Seniors will no longer be able to afford health care (or how many will be denied care by private insurance companies) before all is said and done?
  4. Funding for space and science has been increased.  Hmmm.  Is he hedging his bet just in case the Newster manages to pull of a major coup, win the Presidency and need the funding for his moon base?
  5. He pretty much cut Energy to the bone in favor of locking us into nothing but oil strategy for the foreseeable future.
  6. He cut education below what he proposed in Version 1.0 until 2017, when funding finally manages to eke past what he proposed in his Version 1.0 Path.
  7. He increased funding for the Criminal Justice System … is he planning to incarcerate even more Americans?
  8. And lastly … he proposes to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Plan … yet in doing so, the federal government saves nothing in the process.  In fact, check out the rapidly escalating rise in health care costs (550).  Are you looking forward to insurance companies once again being in charge of your health, denying coverage, limiting lifetime coverage, utilizing claims of “pre-existing conditions” to deny coverage, charging women far more for insurance coverage than men, etc.?
Rep. Ryan has proposed nearly $3 Trillion dollars in cuts for the wealthy and multinational corporations.  Absent, however, from his “Path” was the means through which he would pay for those cuts.  Other than stealing working American’s Social Security and Medicare, he has no means to pay for such unnecessary and outrageous cuts to government revenue. Pure and simple, his “path” amounts to nothing more than ‘theft.”  And, if you scroll all the way to the bottom of this post, you will see that what Mr. Ryan has proposed will not get us any where near balancing our federal budget as the GOP is claiming this budget will get us closer to doing.  It does not and it will not.  What it will do is explode our national debt to $21,627,396,000,000 by 2022.  That’s not a path to prosperity, that’s a path to poverty and the destruction of our nation.

VanessaCare: Health Coverage Without Lifetime Limits

Thus far in the 112th Session of Congress, no less than 49 bills have been proposed in the U.S. House alone to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, in whole or in part, and that’s not counting all the bills that propose to delay implementation:

HR 0002 Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act:  To repeal the job-killing health care law and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Rep. Eric Cantor [R-VA7]
HR 0021 Reclaiming Individual Liberty Act:  To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the mandate that individuals purchase health insurance. Rep. Scott Garrett [R-NJ5]
HR 0038 To rescind funds appropriated to the Health Insurance Reform Implementation Fund under the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Rep. John Fleming [R-LA4]
HR 0060 To repeal the expansion of information reporting requirements for payments of $600 or more to corporations, and for other purposes. Rep. Steve Scalise [R-LA1]
HR 0105 Empowering Patients First Act:  To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and related health-care provisions and to enact in its place incentives to encourage health insurance coverage, and for other purposes. Rep. Dan Burton [R-IN5]
HR 0118 Stop the Federal Exchanges from Destroying States Act or the STOP the FEDS Act:  To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to permit a State to elect not to establish an American Health Benefit Exchange. Rep. John Fleming [R-LA4]
HR 0127 To deauthorize appropriation of funds to carry out the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Rep. Tom Graves [R-GA9]
HR 0141 To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Rep. Steve King [R-IA5]
HR 0144 Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination Act of 2011:  To repeal the expansion of information reporting requirements for payments of $600 or more to corporations, and for other purposes. Rep. Daniel Lungren [R-CA3]
HR 0145 Revoke Excessive Policies that Encroach on American Liberties (REPEAL) Act:  To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) and related health-care provisions. Rep. Connie Mack [R-FL14]
HR 0154 Defund the Individual Mandate Act:  To prohibit the use of funds for implementation or enforcement of any Federal mandate to purchase health insurance. Rep. Ted Poe [R-TX2]
HR 0215 To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and title I of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 while preserving the reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act. Rep. Donald Young [R-AK]
HR 0299 To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, repeal the 7.5 percent threshold on the deduction for medical expenses, provide for increased funding for high-risk pools, allow acquiring health insurance across State lines, and allow for the creation of association health plans. Rep. Paul Broun [R-GA10]
HR 0364 Common Sense Health Reform Americans Actually Want Act: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to take meaningful steps to lower health care costs and increase access to health insurance coverage without raising taxes, cutting Medicare benefits for seniors, adding to the national deficit, intervening in the doctor-patient relationship, or instituting a government takeover of health care. Rep. Thomas Latham [R-IA4]
HR 0371 Health Care Choice Act of 2011:  To repeal title I of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for cooperative governing of individual health insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R-TN7]
HR 0397 Reform Americans Can Afford Act of 2011:  To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and to take meaningful steps to lower health care costs and increase access to health insurance coverage without raising taxes, cutting Medicare benefits for seniors, adding to the national deficit, intervening in the doctor-patient relationship, or instituting a government takeover of health care. Rep. Walter Herger [R-CA2]
HR 0429 To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 and to amend title 5, United States Code, to establish a national health program administered by the Office of Personnel Management to offer Federal employee health benefits plans to individuals who are not Federal employees, and for other purposes. Rep. Darrell Issa [R-CA49]
HR 0450 To repeal limitations imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on health-related tax benefits under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and to treat high deductible health plans as qualified health plans under such Act. Rep. Dave Reichert [R-WA8]
HR 0452 To repeal the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act providing for the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Rep. Phil Roe [R-TN1]
HR 0524 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that limit distributions from medical-related tax-preferred accounts for medicines only if the medicines are prescribed drugs or insulin and to repeal the increase in additional tax on distributions from health savings accounts and Archer MSAs not used for qualified medical expenses. Rep  Benjamin Quayle [R-AZ3]
HR 0556 To repeal certain provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act related to patient centered outcomes research and rescind unobligated appropriations related to such provisions and to repeal certain health care-related provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and rescind unobligated appropriations related to such provisions for purposes of reducing the national debt. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R-MI11]
HR 0584 To repeal the information reporting requirements added by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. Joe Courtney [D-CT2]
HR 0605 Patients’ Freedom to Choose Act: To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to repeal certain limitations on health care benefits. Rep. Erik Paulsen [R-MN3]
HR 0636 Affordable Health Care Expansion Act of 2011: To repeal PPACA and the health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, and to amend the amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow individuals a refundable credit against income tax for the purchase of private health insurance, and for other purposes. Rep. Kay Granger [R-TX12]
HR 0698 To deauthorize and rescind funding for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health-care-related provisions of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Rep. Tim Scott [R-SC1]
HR 0734 To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the medical device tax, and for other purposes Rep. Brian Bilbray [R-CA50]
HR 0767 To permit individuals to choose to opt out of the requirement to maintain health insurance minimum essential coverage if such individuals also opt out of specified insurance reform protections. Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR4]
HR 0782 To enable States to opt out of certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R-MI11]
HR 0816 Provider Shield Act of 2011:  To prevent the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from establishing health care provider standards of care in medical malpractice or medical product liability cases, and for other purposes. Rep. John Gingrey [R-GA11]
HR 1101 End the Mandate Act of 2011:  To restore the American people’s freedom to choose the health insurance that best meets their individual needs by repealing the mandate that all Americans obtain government-approved health insurance. Rep. Ronald Paul [R-TX14]
HR 1159 To repeal certain provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act relating to the limitation on the Medicare exception to the prohibition on certain physician referrals for hospitals and to transparency reports and reporting of physician ownership or investment interests. Rep. Doc Hastings [R-WA4]
HR 1186 To repeal changes made by health care reform laws to the Medicare exception to the prohibition on certain physician referrals for hospitals. Rep. Samuel Johnson [R-TX3]
HR 1200 American Health Security Act of 2011:  To provide for health care for every American and to control the cost and enhance the quality of the health care system. Rep. James McDermott [D-WA7]
HR 1213 To repeal mandatory funding provided to States in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges. Rep. Frederick Upton [R-MI6]
HR 1214 To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction Rep. Michael Burgess [R-TX26]
HR 1217 To repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund Rep. Joseph Pitts [R-PA16]
HR 1286 Healthcare Fiscal Accountability Act of 2011:  To provide for fiscal accountability for new direct funding under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by converting its direct funding into authorizations of appropriations and by rescinding unobligated direct funding. Rep. Michele Bachmann [R-MN6]
HR 1324 To eliminate sweetheart deals under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Rep. Vern Buchanan [R-FL13]
HR 1370 To repeal the annual fee on health insurance providers enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. Charles Boustany [R-LA7]
HR 1744 American Job Protection Act:  To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the employer health insurance mandate. Rep. Charles Boustany [R-LA7]
HR 2077 MLR Repeal Act of 2011:  To repeal medical loss ratio requirements for health insurance. Rep. Tom Price [R-GA6]
HR 2206 To repeal a requirement that new employees of certain employers be automatically enrolled in the employer’s health benefits plan. Rep. Frank Guinta [R-NH1]
HR 2529 Restoring Access to Medication Act:  To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to repeal distributions for medicine qualified only if for prescribed drug or insulin. Rep. Lynn Jenkins [R-KS2]
HR 2694 Medicare Firewall Act of 2011:  To firewall the Medicare Trusts Funds by restoring to those Trust Funds funds transferred by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. John Culberson [R-TX7]
HR 3243 Common Sense Deficit Reduction Act of 2011: To amend titles XIX and XXI of the Social Security Act, titles I and II of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and other Acts for the purpose of eliminating certain health entitlement programs and reducing the deficit. Rep. Dennis Rehberg [R-MT]
HR 3299 To amend title XXVII of the Public Health Service Act to apply to retiree-only health plans the extension of dependent health coverage for individuals through 26 years of age provided for by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. Maurice Hinchey [D-NY22]
HR 3682 Patient Centered Healthcare Savings Act of 2011: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and provide for comprehensive health reform, and for other purposes. Rep. Sean Duffy [R-WI7]
HR 4224 Offering Patients True Individualized Options Now Act of 2012: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the percentage floor on medical expense deductions, expand the use of tax-preferred health care accounts, and establish a charity care credit, to amend the Social Security Act to create a Medicare Premium Assistance Program and reform EMTALA requirements, and to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for cooperative governing of individual and group health insurance coverage offered in interstate commerce. Rep. Paul Broun [R-GA10]
HR 4242 To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide individual and group market reforms to protect health insurance consumers, and for other purposes. Rep. Joe Heck [R-NV3]

The Republican-led house (and even NV3’s Joe Heck) is seriously looking to overturn the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and return control of our health to their for-profit insurance company benefactors so they can once again deny coverage, assert that coverage doesn’t apply because you have an pre-existing condition, or for example, that you’ve exhausted your lifetime benefit and you’re no longer eligible for insurance coverage.  That is not what Americans want, and the Republicans are way off base in their efforts to return to a time where medical expenses drove far too many Americans in to bankruptcy courts across our nation.

Whitehouse.gov started a new program called MyCare to collect stories about just how PPACA has helped individuals across this nation.  Here’s one of those stories which walks you through the differences it’s made for just one American family:

Vanessa Mishkit, a nurse in Tampa, knows firsthand what it’s like to go up against insurance companies on behalf of her child. Vanessa thought she had excellent health insurance, until her son was born with birth defects. He met his million-dollar lifetime limit and the family was told he was no longer eligble for insurance. The Affordable Care Act changed that.

Her son was born with birth defects: developmentally delayed, legally blind, and near deaf. And even though Vanessa had health insurance through work at Tampa General Hospital, she was constantly fighting for her son’s coverage: He was born with a pre-existing condition.

“I had what I thought was excellent health insurance, and then after David was born we received notification that he had met his million-dollar limit and he wouldn’t be eligible for coverage,” Vanessa says.

“There are thousands and thousands of families” who are in similar situations, she says. “They can’t advocate for themselves at this time because they’re caught up in day-to-day survival.” Vanessa points out that the Affordable Care Act now prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. “We fought a huge battle and now with health care reform” other families won’t have to fight just to keep their keep their children well, she says.

In 2014, insurance companies will be barred from discriminating against anyone with pre-existing conditions. Additionally, the health reform law bars low annual and lifetime caps on claims, a way that insurance companies have used to avoid paying claims.

David “has a heart of gold and now I’m looking at him and he’s 23 years old. He is learning how to take as well care of himself as he possibly can within his limitations. I’m very proud of him,” Vanessa says.

The Affordable Care Act is designed to give hard working families the peace of mind they deserve in meeting their health care needs.

If you have a story like Vanessa’s, share it at Healthcare.gov/MyCare.

Health Reform Helps More Than 5.1M People with Medicare Save over $3.2B

March 19, 2012
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Since enactment of the health care law, Medicare beneficiaries received average savings of $635 on prescription drugs

As the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act approaches, new data shows that more than 5.1 million seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare saved over $3.2 billion on prescription drugs because of the new health care law, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced today while at the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.

For St. Louis resident Fritzi Lainoff and her husband, the discounts meant $2,500 back in their pockets last year. “It was a blessing,” she said. “The law’s Medicare savings have made an enormous difference.”

Savings for seniors include a one-time $250 rebate check to seniors who hit the “donut hole” coverage gap in 2010 and a 50 percent discount on covered brand-name drugs in the donut hole in 2011.

In addition, data released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show that through the first two months of 2012, about 103,000 seniors and people with disabilities saved $93 million in the donut hole.

“Without the health care law, more than 5.1 million seniors would have faced $3.2 billion in higher drug costs,” Secretary Sebelius said.  “As we move forward, seniors will save even more as the new law completely eliminates the Medicare donut hole, delivering more relief to Americans like the Lainoff’s.”

In 2012, Medicare beneficiaries will receive a 50 percent discount from manufacturers on covered brand name drugs and a 14 percent savings on generic drugs in the donut hole. The Affordable Care Act expands these discounts over time until the donut hole is closed in 2020.

“Already this year, tens of thousands of seniors and people with disabilities are starting to see increased savings as they enter the donut hole,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “The Affordable Care Act has made prescription drugs more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries, protecting the health and pocketbooks of millions of America’s seniors.”

For more information on how the Affordable Care Act closes the donut hole over time, please visit:http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/65-older/drug-discounts/index.html

For a report on how the Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare in 2011, please visit:http://www.cms.gov/apps/files/MedicareReport2011.pdf

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Policies Give States More Flexibility to Establish Affordable Insurance Exchanges

March 12, 2012
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced policies to assist states in building Affordable Insurance Exchanges.  Starting in 2014, these one-stop marketplaces will allow consumers and small businesses to choose a private health insurance plan and offer the public the same kinds of insurance choices as members of Congress.

The policies released today will help states in designing their Exchanges to best meet the needs of their consumers.  They offer states substantial flexibility as they design a marketplace that works for their residents.

“These policies give states the flexibility they need to design an Exchange that works for them,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “These new marketplaces will offer Americans one-stop shopping for health insurance, where insurers will compete for your business. More competition will drive down costs and Exchanges will give individuals and small businesses the same purchasing power big businesses have today.”

Today’s policies provide states with the guidance and certainty they need as they continue to work to build these marketplaces for their residents for operation in 2014. The policies offer guidance about the options on how to structure Exchanges in two key areas:

  • Setting standards for establishing Exchanges, setting up a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP), performing the basic functions of an Exchange, and certifying health plans for participation in the Exchange;
  • Establishing a streamlined, web-based system for consumers to apply for and enroll in qualified health plans and insurance affordability programs.

The final rule builds on the flexibility and resources provided by HHS already to build state-based Exchanges.  A majority of states have taken significant steps in building Exchanges. Previously, HHS awarded 49 states and the District of Columbia $50 million to begin planning their Exchanges, and as announced recently, 33 states and the District of Columbia have received over $667 million in Establishment Grants to begin building their Exchanges.

Today’s announcement builds on over two years’ worth of work with states, small businesses, consumers, and health insurance plans. The administration examined models of Exchanges; convened numerous meetings and regional listening sessions across the country with stakeholders; and consulted closely with state leaders, consumer advocates, employers and insurers. To finalize the rules announced today, HHS accepted public comment over 75 days to learn from states, consumers, and other stakeholders on how the rules could be improved, and HHS modified the proposals based on feedback from the American people.

For more information on today’s announcement, visit:


For more information on Exchanges, including fact sheets, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/exchanges.

Health reform law ends lifetime limits for 105 million Americans

March 5, 2012
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

State-by-state data available

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius released a new report today on how the health reform law has eliminated lifetime limits on coverage for more than 105 million Americans. Before health reform, many Americans with serious illnesses such as cancer risked hitting the lifetime limit on the dollar amount their insurance companies would cover for their health care benefits.

“For years, Americans with lifetime caps imposed on their health insurance benefits have had to live with the fear that if an illness or accident happened, they could max out their health coverage when they needed it the most,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “Now, because of the health care law, they no longer have to live in fear of that happening.”

The end of lifetime limits is one of many new consumer rights and protections in the law for Americans nationwide.  In the report, HHS provides data on the number of people in each state that benefit from this component of the law.  The Obama administration also released updated state data on other ways the new law has impacted Americans, including the number of people with Medicare receiving new preventive benefits and the various grants awarded to states.

While some plans provided coverage without dollar limits on lifetime benefits, 105 million Americans were previously in health plans that had lifetime limits.  HHS estimates that 70 million people in large employer plans, 25 million people in small employer plans, and 10 million people with individually purchased health insurance had lifetime limits on their health benefits prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

This includes 39.5 million women and 28 million children; 11.8 million Latinos and 10.4 million African Americans.

To view the report on lifetime limits, visit: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/LifetimeLimits/ib.shtml

To view additional state by state data on the benefits of health reform, visit: