As of Tuesday, Amanda Barrett can no longer be denied health care because of a pre-existing condition. The day was extra-special for her because President Obama gave a speech in which he told Barrett's story.
Barrett, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and had a difficult time finding health insurance after her temporary insurance expired, told MSNBC Wednesday that having affordable health care is a "life or death issue."
"My choices when I was signing up for health care were a plan where I could not see the doctors who keep me healthy, $1,200 [a month], or no treatment at all and heading toward a wheelchair," Barrett said. Under the Affordable Care Act, Barrett now estimates she'll pay $300 a month for treatment.
But Barrett said the start of the Affordable Care Act enrollment was a bittersweet milestone in America because of the government shutdown brought about by conservatives pushing to defund the law. "I'm getting affordable health care, the people who are around me who have terrible, heartbreaking stories are getting health care...but then, down the road, I have friends and family and neighbors who work for the government, and they're getting pink slips," Barrett said. "That to me is cruel. It makes no sense."
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also joined MSNBC to talk about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and to defend the health care website that many conservatives accused of being non-functional due to first-day glitches.
"Even though we've been building this very important and complicated website system, the volume of the last 24 hours exceeded anyone's expectations," Sebelius said, noting that traffic on Tuesday was five times the amount of traffic the department's Medicare website receives at its busiest time. "As we speak, there is a team on the ground [making improvements]. We want it to be as user-friendly and as easy as possible."
Watch the full interview above.