Wasserman Schultz: Obamacare reflects America's values
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USA Today// DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz
The Affordable Care Act is not about politics, it's about curing our country.
A few years ago, I used to enter my local drug store and stand behind seniors as they left prescriptions behind because they couldn't afford all the medications they needed. I used to talk to cancer survivors like myself whose daunting diagnosis was compounded by the financial stress of having to choose between essential treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. Those days are finally over.
Four years ago today, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. It ushered in significant change. More than 5 million Americans have signed up for coverage through the state and federal marketplaces alone. About 105 million Americans have received access to free preventive services, including nearly 50 million women who can now access contraception and cancer screenings with no copay. Up to 129 million Americans living with a pre-existing condition, including nearly 8 million in my home state of Florida, including myself, now have the peace of mind knowing that we can't be denied coverage or charged higher premiums because of a pre-existing condition.
But more important than the statistics or the numbers, are the worry lines that are gone from the faces of people who breathe a little bit easier, whose budgets are a little bit less constrained, and whose worries have abated because of a guarantee of coverage. So many women have beckoned me over to tell me in a whisper that they put off getting a lump checked by a doctor because they were afraid it might turn out to be cancer, and they wouldn't be able to afford the treatment. No one should have to live with that fear and we will not go back.
This is about more than politics; it's about the values of our country. The Republican obsession over repealing and sabotaging the health care law must stop -- this is not what the people who elected us are looking for or what they deserve. We have so much important work to get done in Washington. We must move forward and continue to educate Americans and businesses about the benefits of the health care law, from protecting against discrimination because of a pre-existing condition, to accessing preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies with no co-pays, to closing the Medicare Part D donut hole coverage gap so seniors can save even more on prescription drugs. Democrats are committed to protecting these important benefits and fighting against the irresponsible, and costly, efforts by Republicans to repeal our progress.
Republicans have voted 50 times to repeal, defund, or undermine the Affordable Care Act. But what won't they vote on? Measures that would expand economic opportunity to more Americans. On extending unemployment insurance benefits for millions of Americans, Republicans said no; on comprehensive,immigration reform, Republicans refuse to bring it up for a vote; and on raising the minimum wage so no one working full time has to live in poverty, the GOP stubbornly ignores that the vast majority of Americans support an increase. The American people are tired of this unprecedented obstruction, they are looking for progress.
As I reflect on the last six years as a cancer survivor, I am more determined now than ever to ensure all Americans know the facts about their health care options. Our work continues every day as more Americans sign up for insurance and join the millions who are already benefiting from the health care law. I remember growing up, my parents taught me that if you don't have your health, you don't have anything. I realized after my breast cancer diagnosis, how right they were. We must do all we can to ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care so that we can continue to build a strong, healthy middle class as we advance our economy and move forward.
(Sent by the DNC)