Day one: What’s at stake

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    Health Care Action at JMU

    Today the United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in what is being called one of the most important cases in the history of the court. All across Virginia, residents who stand to lose their health care if the law were overturned are speaking out in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

    Supporters of the ACA gathered in front of the U.S. Courthouse in Charlottesville today 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 Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell to stop blocking further implementation in Virginia.

    Breast cancer survivor and Medicare recipient Dell Erwin spoke in Charlottesville today 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. “We are thankful beyond words for the health care law. 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 on March 23, 2010, Attorney General Cuccinelli has consistently opposed the new law. On Saturday, Attorney General Cuccinelli spoke at a “Road to Repeal” Rally in Washington, D.C. along with Herman Cain. 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 denied ever saying that he planned on ignoring the law once it is upheld.

    In celebration of last week’s two-year anniversary of the ACA, Virginia Organizing held celebratory events in Fredericksburg, Newport News, Harrisonburg, Staunton and Virginia Beach. College students from CNU, UMW, JMU, VCU and UVA spoke out against Attorney General Cuccinelli’s attempts to block the law, which has allowed 53,900 young Virginians to go back on their parents’ health insurance in the last year and a half.

    the ACA, Arianne Waschler, a 23 year-old masters 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. “I have a history of health problems and need a comprehensive plan in order to stay healthy. Jobs with good insurance are hard to come by when you are just entering the work force. If the Supreme Court strikes the law down, they’ll turn back the clock and force me to risk my health by going without insurance.” 

    Students also collected signatures for a petition asking Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Governor Bob McDonnell to stop blocking the health care law.

    The Virginia health care events coincide with more than 300 other events taking place across the country this week and last with seniors, children, small-business owners and young people coming together to explain how they are already being helped by the Affordable Care Act and to highlight what is at stake as opponents of reform work overtime to take away those benefits in state legislatures, in Congress and at the U.S. Supreme Court. Click here for a fact sheet on the Affordable Care Act in Virginia