Affordable Care Act affirmation celebrated in Tampa

06/29/12 Janelle Irwin
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Some supporters of the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the healthcare law held signs in front of the Federal Courthouse in Tampa today. The group of 25 people thinks the new law will make Americans healthier.

One of the most celebrated components of the healthcare law is the pre-existing condition provision. It keeps insurance companies from denying coverage to someone who has an ongoing illness. Ariel Fernandez is a Cuban immigrant and he has epilepsy. He said he’s had insurance since 2010, but it wasn’t easy to get it.

“My entire family was stumped because we had the money. We could purchase insurance no matter what the cost because it was going to be less than my medication, but everybody said no – because I was too much of a risk.”

Fernandez’s struggle led him to get informed and involved with the fight for healthcare reform.

“It was a saving grace for, not just me, but everybody that’s around me that I kind of hold down when I’m sick and I can’t be productive and they have to pay my bills and come in and to the rescue. That doesn’t have to happen anymore.”

Ellen Brown, a local small business owner, is looking forward to taking advantage of tax credits to provide medical coverage for her two employees. And as a senior citizen, she’s also seen first hand how the cost of prescription medication has left people choosing between paying bills and buying medicine. Brown said she was shocked and thrilled when she heard the news that the healthcare law had been ruled constitutional.

“Some of these medications – fortunately, not what I take, but what my brother-in-law does take – is $1,000 a shot. That’s big money. And when you get to the doughnut hole…you can get your medicine.”

The decision is also being celebrated by some doctors. Mona Mangat treats people with allergies. She’s organizing a caravan from the Republican National Convention in Tampa to the Democratic convention in Charlotte. It will include a group of doctors and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act and show people that making healthcare more accessible isn’t about partisanship.

“Our ultimate desire is to treat patients and to make this country a healthier country. So, this law is allowing us to do that – getting us one step closer. It’s not the panacea of all our problems, but it gets us a step closer.”

Governor Rick Scott held off on implementing early provisions of the law and it’s unclear whether he will expand Medicaid. That’s one provision that’s optional. Mangat said not taking federal dollars to expand a crucial program would be detrimental to people with low incomes.

“People will actually die. It’s different. The other reporter brought up – well, he turned away the high speed rail money. Well, that’s different. Nobody died because of that. People will die without expansion of Medicaid in this state.”

Not everyone at the rally was a fan of the President’s healthcare law. Donald Waiberman works at the courthouse. He stood next to the circle of supporters asking what they thought the law would do for the quality of care. Waiberman’s concern was that with more people insured doctors would be inundated with patients.

“You’re still going to go to the doctor. You’re still going to want to get those check-ups like I do and you’re going to have to wait a lot longer because there’s going to be a lot more people in those waiting rooms.”

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has criticized the federal healthcare law and said after the ruling that he would repeal it on his first day in office if he’s elected.

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Baby Step

We all, including the M.D.s present, recognised that the Affordable Care Act was but a tiny step in the direction of Universal Health Care. We deserve what all other industrialised countries have.