Exactly how many Americans have gained health coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act? President Obama traveled to Milwaukee to let the public know about the newest total.
“Today, I can announce that thanks to the law, 20 million more Americans now know the security of health insurance. Twenty million. Twenty million people. Twenty million folks like Brent. That includes 6 million young people, who were less likely to be insured before the Affordable Care Act.“As many as 129 million Americans with preexisting conditions can no longer be charged more or denied coverage just because they’ve been sick. Almost 140 million Americans who already have private insurance, so they didn’t need to sign up for Obamacare – they’re now guaranteed free preventive care as well, and checkups. Mammograms. You’re getting more for what you’re paying for.”
Turning his attention briefly to those who’ve tried to kill, repeal, sabotage, and undermine the law, the president added, “Congressional Republicans have tried and failed to repeal or undermine it about 60 times. They’ve told you what they’d replace it with about zero times. They sure won’t tell you what would happen if they actually did repeal it. If they got their way, 20 million people will have their insurance taken away from them. Twenty million people!”
These latest figures, not surprisingly, coincide with data from HHS that shows the uninsured rate improving to all-time lows.
Given all of this, it’s hard to blame the president for taking a victory lap. But let’s back up a minute. When Obama said “folks like Brent,” who’s Brent?
As it turns out, the White House posted online yesterday a letter the president received from Brent Brown from Mosinee, Wisconsin. If you haven’t seen it, the correspondence, sent last June, is quite powerful.
To My President,I sincerely hope that this reaches you, as far too often praise is hard to come by. Apologies to people who deserve it perhaps even less so.I did not vote for you. Either time. I have voted Republican for the entirety of my life.I proudly wore pins and planted banners displaying my Republican loyalty. I was very vocal in my opposition to you–particularly the ACA.Before I briefly explain my story allow me to first say this: I am so very sorry. I understand written content cannot convey emotions very well – but my level of conviction has me in tears as I write this. I was so very wrong. So very very wrong.You saved my life. I want that to sink into your ears and mind. My President, you saved my life, and I am eternally grateful.I have a ‘pre-existing condition’ and so could never purchase health insurance. Only after the ACA came into being could I be covered. Put simply to not take up too much of your time if you are in fact taking the time to read this: I would not be alive without access to care I received due to your law.So thank you from a dumb young man who thought he knew it all and who said things about you that he now regrets. Thank you for serving me even when I didn’t vote for you.Thank you for being my President.Honored to have lived under your leadership and guidance,Brent Nathan Brown
Obviously, this is just one man, but the broader point, as regular readers know, is that Brent Nathan Brown is hardly alone. Plenty of Americans, many of whom didn’t vote for the president and assumed “Obamacare” deserved their scorn, had their lives saved by a law they thought they hated – until they got sick.
The longer the law exists, the more stories like these will become common, and the harder it will be for Republicans to complete their repeal crusade.