This week is the one year anniversary of the SCOTUS ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act! (It seems we can’t get enough SCOTUS these days.) Today also marks the 100 day countdown until enrollment for the program begins, a landmark which House Minority Leader Pelosi celebrated this morning with a press conference showcasing the voices of citizens personally affected by the healthcare reforms.
I was lucky enough to be there representing the Feminist Majority Foundation with my fellow interns! Here’s what went down. But first, a photo of us with Pelosi herself.
Pelosi began by speaking of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as an extension of the country’s fundamental ideals. She declared that the “health independence” allowed by the ACA will help Americans fully realize their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She also asserted (to a round of applause) that “healthcare should be a right for many, not a privilege for few.”
Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius spoke next, highlighting the benefits for those currently with and without insurance coverage. She explained that the 85% of Americans who already have insurance will receive more secure coverage, a guarantee of continued coverage, increased choices from the insurance market, and better healthcare rates. The remaining 15% (mainly women, youth, low income people, and immigrants) will receive the same, and will for the first time have access to this affordable health care.
“Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.”Kathleen Sebelius
Other speakers included a senior citizen grateful for her access to a free annual wellness checkup, a young cancer survivor who managed to avoid an extra $25,000 of debt thanks to the ACA disallowing insurance discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions, and an NYU student with diabetes who discussed the benefits of being able to stay on her parents’ plan until the age of 26.
Pelosi closed the conference with a word of thanks to all who helped with the original passing of ACA and the continued efforts to get ready for the first day of enrollment – October 1. Getting to hear all the speakers (and shake Nancy Pelosi’s hand!) got me excited about our country’s current commitment to inclusion and making the American ideals we learn in elementary school applicable to all citizens, not just those who look like the original signers of the Constitution. Obviously the Affordable Care Act is not a cure-all (and there are still many battles that need to be fought), but it sure is a great start to achieving equity in healthcare for Americans.