POOL REPORT #1 — October 1, 2013 — Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast
Flanked by people who are enrolling in the Affordable Care Act or have already benefited from its provisions, POTUS stood at podium under noonday sun in the Rose Garden, HHS Secretary Sebelius at his side, to explain why this “Republican shutdown” didn’t have to happen, “and I want every American to know why it did happen.”
He said Republicans shut down the government over “an ideological crusade to deny health insurance to millions of Americans.” He repeated charge that in our democracy lawmakers don’t get “ransom for simply doing their job.” If the Republicans offered legislation to fund the government “with no strings attached,” that would get enough votes to pass.
He said that more than one million people visited healthcare.gov before seven this morning — five times more than the number of people who have ever been on Medicare.gov at one time. “We’re going to speed this up to handle demand that exceeds anything we expected,” he said. Anticipating criticism that Obamacare is not ready for prime time, he recalled the glitches Apple had recently when it started selling its new i-phone. Nobody suggested Apple should stop selling i-phones, or that the company should be shut down.
Referring to the array of Americans standing behind him, Obama said, “For them, and for millions like them, this is a historic day. It’s been a long time coming.” He said people with insurance are already receiving benefits, and “for the 15 percent of Americans who don’t have health insurance, this opportunity is life-changing.” He talked about the stories of some of the people who he had met with in the oval office before coming out to the Rose Garden – their bios provided by WH press office are below.
Just visit healthcare.gov, he said, saying it’s like finding a plane ticket on Kayak, or a TV on Amazon. Most people can find a plan for $100 or less a month, he said. He also gave out hot line to apply over the phone for help finding a plan 1-800-318-2596. If you get cancer, you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years if you have health care. “This is life and death stuff.”
He said stalemate with Congress is not about the deficit – that deficits are falling at the fastest pace in 60 years; this is about “rolling back health insurance for folks who don’t have it… keeping people uninsured is the centerpiece of their agenda. Stranger still, shutting down government doesn’t accomplish their stated goal….It (ACA) is here to stay, and because of its funding source, it’s not affected by the government shutdown,” he declared, clearly relishing the irony of the health care law spared from the GOP’s chopping block.
His message to Congress, stop governing crisis by crisis, and raise the debt ceiling. “This is a routine vote,” he said, it’s been done 45 times since Reagan took office. He repeated his willingness to negotiate on a range off issues, but not under threat of shut down, or default. “That’s not how adults operate,” he said, “We’re better than this.” He turned back to the oval office without taking questions.
Aqualyn Laury is currently enrolled in the Affordable Care Act Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) program. Shortly after enrolling in PCIP, Laury had a heart attack. She attributed PCIP and the ACA with saving her life. Laury is planning to transition to marketplace coverage once the exchanges open up.
Helen Tracey is a full-time student and mother who cannot afford to buy insurance. While her children are covered through MCHIP, Tracey is planning to enroll for her own insurance when the marketplace opens.
Amanda Barrett left her job in New York to take care of her ailing parents in the DC area. Barrett went on COBRA while she looked for a new job and when it ran out she tried to sign up for private insurance. Barrett, who has multiple sclerosis, was denied from many private insurers because she has a pre-existing condition. She finally found a private insurer and currently pays $1,200 a month. Barrett plans on enrolling when the marketplace opens up in order to reduce her monthly premiums.
Gerald (Joe) Singletary
Gerald Singletary works as a security guard at a company that does not provide insurance. He currently purchases expensive insurance on the private market. Singletary’s insurance is about to expire and he plans to sign up for a new plan when the marketplace opens.
Darlene and Louis Thompson
Darlene and Louis Thompson are currently uninsured. Louis, 57 years old, worked in construction for more thirty years and received insurance from his employer. Last year, Louis had to stop working because he was diagnosed with cancer. The couple lost their healthcare and now go to the free clinic in their community. They can no longer see their primary care physician who knew their history since they cannot afford private insurance. The Thompsons are planning to enroll in the marketplace.
Trinace and Lenace Edwards
Shortly after being laid off and losing her insurance, Trinace Edwards was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She is unable to afford private insurance and has not received treatment. Trinace has been unable to work since her diagnosis and her daughter Lenace, a student at the University of Maryland, has considered dropping out of school in order to help pay for her mother’s bills. Trinace is planning to enroll in the exchange in order to finally receive treatment for her condition.
Nancy Beigel, 55 years old, has been uninsured for ten years. Beigel used to have a private policy that she dropped after skyrocketing premiums forced her to choose between paying her rent and paying for insurance. She currently pays for all of her medical care out of pocket and has medical bills on her credit record that she cannot pay. While her health problems prevent her from working full time, she is not disabled enough to qualify for disability or Medicaid. Beigel says “they talk about those who fall through the cracks, I fell through ten years ago and have been stuck there ever since.”
Oscar Renderos and Cintya Renderos
Oscar Renderos has been unable to afford private insurance and does not receive coverage through his employer. He has had several high medical bills recently that have been difficult for him to pay. Renderos is looking forward to buying insurance on the marketplace because it would give him and his family “peace of mind and a sense of security.” As a member of LULAC, daughter Cintya will help her father and other members of the community with the enrollment process.
Maureen Murphy, 52 years old, is a freelance video producer that has had to buy insurance on her own. In 2010, due to the recession and skyrocketing insurance premiums, she was forced to drop her coverage. During a gym class, Murphy suffered a slight stroke and when she went to the hospital for care, they sent her home without an MRI, with an incorrect diagnosis and with thousands of dollars in medical bills. After being rejected for private insurance, Murphy was finally able to obtain coverage through the ACA PCIP program. Murphy will now shop for coverage on the insurance marketplace.