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    ‘health care’ Category

    Why Healthcare Matters: My Story

    Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

    As a senior in college, there are a few things that have the ability to instantly put me on edge:

    The first is when anyone asks me that burning question, “What do you plan on doing after you graduate?” This one typically earns the inquisitor a blank stare and some made-up, adult-friendly response so that I won’t have to justify my actual plan to take a year off to enjoy my youth, and enroll in Law School in the fall of 2015.  

    The second is when I’m faced with anything that has to do with health and related health care costs.

    For the sake of current event relevancy, and the close of enrollment for Obamacare, this blog post is going to focus on the latter of the two. So here’s my story:

    I come from a midwest, middle-class, single-mother household and I’ve been working since I could legally hold a job– but it wasn’t until my sophomore year in college when my mother retired and I started working more that things became difficult with my health care coverage. Long story short, I got the boot.

    According to my mother’s health care representative, when I became eligible for part-time benefits at my then employer, I became ineligible for coverage under my mother’s plan– the care that I’d depended on my entire life!  But what my mother’s health care provider did not understand was that I had NO intention of enrolling in coverage under my current employer for the following reasons:

    1. I worked at a grocery store and it was just a college job. My focus was on school and I knew that if the two ever came into conflict, work would have to take the back burner.

    2. I wasn’t planning on staying there long term.

    3. My grocery store job didn’t allow me to be fully self sufficient.

    4. Coverage under my current employer was on the pricey side

    5. My mom’s coverage was much better and cheaper. Switching providers would have been…impractical to say the least.

    For a student who was only making $11.40 an hour as a cashier, I soon found myself at a crossroads between personal expenses and health care. Ultimately and ironically, I took the road most traveled by; that of personal expenses which included important everyday things like food, books, incidentals, toiletries, transportation, etc…

    I didn’t have health care but I figured: “I’m young, I’m healthy, I heal fast and I’ll just avoid getting hurt.” And while I was privileged enough to have minimal coverage under my University’s student health service, every “doctor” visit required me to wait for hours upon hours in the unorganized, overcrowded student health center only for me to be prescribed a $10 round of antibiotics or return a few weeks later with another health problem. I did not have a primary care physician, I couldn’t get my teeth professionally cleaned, I couldn’t get vision check-ups, I couldn’t visit my University’s actual hospital, and most of all, I wasn’t receiving quality medical attention.

    Luckily me and my mother discovered a flaw in the system.  My mother’s health care provider had no hesitation removing me from her coverage, but they had not made her aware that despite her retirement and my increased work hours, my full-time student status maintained my eligibility to remain under her coverage. After a long year, my health care was reinstated, and while I to this day lack vision and dental insurance, I am grateful to have at least some of my bearings back.

    People like my father, haven’t been so fortunate.  He has been uninsured for the past 15 years and admits to not being seen by a doctor in 5 or 6 years.  As a freelance carpenter needless to say, he is at constant risk.  I remember growing up and quizzing him on why he would never go to the hospital for his work related injuries (once he drilled a hole through his thumb) only to hear him quickly change the subject and tell me that he was “fine.” Another time, he passed out at work due to high blood pressure but became infuriated with his colleague for calling an ambulance because my dad had to foot an $800 bill. It took me some time to realize, he wasn’t  pretending to be tough, he had to be.  He wasn’t “fine,” he just didn’t have the means to seek medical attention.

    While I only experienced the inconvenience of not having health-care for a year, I got a feel for what it was like to be uninsured. I compare it to walking on ice, while I’m wearing shoes that have no traction– I could make some strategic steps to avoid slipping but a certain degree of my environment was out of my control; similar to how someone can take precautionary measures to protect his/her/zes health, but some elements and risks will always remain out of grasp.

    Yes, our universities and colleges typically cover some health expenses, but said coverage is limited and only lasts while we are enrolled in classes. Many students in college have parents who are retired or nearing retirement, and will be faced with the fear and challenge of losing support after graduation. Many young people are uninsured or have uninsured family members.

    As a working college student, and daughter of an uninsured father, my experiences with the US health care system have been none other than interesting. While it is relatively simple, this is my  family’s story. This is my perspective. I challenge you to tell your own. Make your voice heard. Inquire about what legislators are and are not doing when it comes to your health care. Try to become as well versed as possible on your medical coverage rights because honestly (to quote the academy award winning rap group Three 6 Mafia), “It’s hard out here for a pimp.”

    Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire
    Bio: Saundrea "Drea" Shropshire is currently a senior at Howard University. Majoring in Political Science and minoring in Swahili Studies, she plans to attend law school in the fall of 2015. An avid biker, knitter, painter, movie enthusiast, music junkie, reader and writer, she takes on all tasks with the utmost tenacity and dedication. She also has many leather-bound books, and her apartment smells of rich mahogany.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    It’s Time to #GetCovered

    Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

    “When you’re young it kinda feels like you’ve got the world on a string. You feel invincible. But you’re not. Life happens.”

    Remember this video? Hard to believe it’s been four years already since you joined our fake doctor friends Zach Braff & Donald Faison to demand affordable health care (Zach, we sincerely hope those nipple wounds have healed by now). And now your efforts have come full circle – starting today you can enroll for healthcare coverage! 

    Okay, okay, okay. We get it. The Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) is confusing, and it doesn’t help that everybody and their mother has a different opinion about it. So here are the important facts you need to know:

    • Are you under 26? You can stay on your parents’ health insurance. No sweat!
    • Do you have a job? Your employer might have healthcare benefits available. Check to see if this is an option.
    • Are you older than 26 and do not have healthcare through work? You can now enroll at www.healthcare.gov/ (and at a competitive price too!).
    • Opting out? Starting next year, you will have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance. The penalty starts small, but will increase gradually over the next few years. 

    Over 19 million Americans ages 18-34 do not have health coverage. Don’t be a statistic. Enroll today and #GetCovered.

    If you have questions, our friends at Young Invincibles have your back: Read up on some Healthcare FAQs.



    Heather Smith
    Bio: Heather is President of Rock the Vote.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Clash of the Justices: The SCOTUS Rules on the ACA

    Thursday, June 28th, 2012

    Today, I and the rest of the Rock the Vote interns were lucky enough to be on the steps of the Supreme Court as the decision on “Obamacare” came down. Despite the maelstrom of protestors that engulfed First Street and the reports of conflicting decisions, eventually the news came to light. A 5-4 decision upheld the majority of Obama’s signature piece of legislation, including the crux – the individual mandate – while the provision that would have expanded Medicaid was watered down in terms of its enforcement.

    Probably the most surprising fact of this decision was how the votes broke. As was expected, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan voted in support of the law while Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas voted in dissent. The shocking result came from the vote of the two remaining Justices – Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted for the law, and Anthony Kennedy, who voted in dissent. In fact, it was Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, who pushed the reason that the individual mandate was upheld. Chief Justice Roberts was the one who said that the individual mandate was a tax, which has backing in American history, and therefore under Congress’ jurisdiction under Congress’ power to tax. The tax ruling comes from the fact that people would have to pay a penalty if they do not have health insurance.

    This ruling came out of nowhere. Republicans believed that they would win and Democrats believed that they would lose. This was evident on the steps of the Supreme Court, with the conservative and Tea Party protesters much louder than their liberal counterparts. As the actual verdict came to light, the dynamic flipped and the liberal protesters began to cheer as the conservatives stood firm, trying to grasp a plan to reverse the decision.

    The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already scheduled a vote to repeal the law once again, set to occur on July 11. Governor Romney stoked the partisan fire in his response to the decision, standing behind a podium that said “Repeal & Replace Obamacare.” “What the court did not do on its last day in session is what I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States,” he said. “And that is I will act to repeal Obamacare.”

    Romney structured his argument around the fact that he believes Obamacare is “bad policy” and “bad law” due to its economic shortfalls, such as increasing taxes, killing jobs, and adding to the deficit. Romney said that he would keep some parts of the law, such as maintaining insurance for people with preexisting conditions.

    He framed the upcoming election as a referendum on the President and his health care bill, offering an ultimatum of whether Americans want an era of bigger government or a return to past times.

    “Our mission is clear,” he said. “If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we must get rid of President Obama and our mission is to do exactly that.”

    President Obama’s speech was more in tune with the non-partisan ruling, highlighting the parts of the bill that are almost universally well-liked. He mentioned that young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, that over 5,000,000 seniors have saved $600 each on prescription drugs, and that “no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.”

    “Today’s decision was a victory for people all across the country whose lives will be more secure,” he said.

    Obama then responded directly to Romney’s speech and its partisanship.

    “What we can’t afford to do now is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to where things were,” he said.

    The President also stated his reasons for passing the bill, saying “I didn’t do this because I thought it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for this country.”

    Putting partisanship aside, this bill has a lot of good in it. It helps insurance companies and it helps the American public. The expansion of health care is paid for, according to Massachusetts Governor Duvall Patrick, “because it is a public good.” It will allow over 33 million Americans to get health insurance and cover preventative care such as checkups and mammograms. It will keep costs down by not forcing those with insurance to subsidize emergency room care for those without and will establish universal standards.

    Here’s what it does for you:

    • If you’re under 26 and on your parent’s insurance you can stay covered.
    • All insurance plans will still have to offer preventive care, including free birth control.

    In 2014, young people will have even more access to health care:

    • Health insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against those with a pre-existing medical condition.
    • Those who earn under $43,000 a year will receive tax credits forpurchasing health insurance.
    • Those earning under $14,000 a year will have access to Medicaid, iftheir states choose to expand access.

    This ruling allows the law and its benefits to stay in place while allowing its shortfalls to be reevaluated and perhaps redone. Politicians should move beyond the contentious politics and take the example of Chief Justice Roberts and the Supreme Court and do what is right for the country’s health.

    Blaze Joel

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Health Care Reform and Young Adults

    Friday, June 22nd, 2012

    As the Supreme Court debates the individual mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to note the effect this decision will have on the upcoming elections, and more specifically the young adult electoral block. This act contains over 1000 pages of modifications and additions to the current health care system that will play a large role in health care for all Americans. However, there are a couple of provisions that are specific to the young adult demographic and will play a significant part in expanded health care coverage for the future as well as shaping how the youngest registered voters will choose their political representation in the upcoming election. The two largest provisions concerning young adults are the extension for coverage on a parent’s plan until the age of 26 (a provision that has rightly seen little argument as in has insured 3.1 million young adults to date) and the controversial individual mandate aspect of the Affordable Care Act.

    For those who do not know, the individual mandate is the requirement to buy health insurance at the risk of fines as a preventive measure designed to reduce cost and maintain them as low as possible. This mandate’s inclusion in the bill has been the greatest challenge levied at the law by its opponents, and the mandate’s constitutionality  is in question in the Supreme Court. With regards to young voters, the mandate may seem unfair as it requires those in the prime of their life, who are both healthy and often less secure financially, to pay for health care that they might never need. In response to that criticism, the law also includes a “Catastrophic option” that allows for young people to purchase their health care at a low premium (annual rate) but with high deductibles (charges stemming from ever needing health care).

    With the decision in the Supreme Court rumored to be released soon, the expanded coverage associated with the law may altered. This election will be perhaps the most important election in the history of health care reform as the candidates will seek to uphold, repeal or adjust the law. It is important for young adults in particular to wade through the political posturing and election rhetoric and choose the candidate that will best serve the interests of this and future generations’ health care coverage.

    Alex Meyer
    Bio: Alex Meyer is a sophomore at Colorado College planning to major in Political Science and History. He believes strongly in the importance of maximizing voter participation in order to provide the check on concentrated power that the founding fathers envisioned when they wrote the constitution.

    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com

    Revisiting Healthcare

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
    This afternoon, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted 245 to 189 to repeal the Affordable Care Act (also known as the health care bill from last year). Three Democrats joined all Republicans to vote for repeal. You can see the tally here. (Worth noting: the legislation isn’t likely to go anywhere. The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate isn’t going to bring the bill up for a vote.)

    The Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), signed into law last March, may just win the “Bill with the Most Names” award. Republicans dubbed the bill the “job-killing” – then just “job-crushing” after the events in Tucson – health care act, “ObamaCare,” and their proposed repeal the “Reform Americans Can Afford Act.” Democrats have branded repeal efforts as the “Patient’s Rights Repeal Act.”

    The repeal of the health care reform bill was a major campaign promise for Republicans, and one they took a step closer to today with the vote in the U.S. House. They believe the health care reform will slow economic growth, increase the deficit and decrease job growth.  The GOP has a summary of their proposed “repeal and replace” plan on their website.

    The original passage of the bill was a major achievement for the President and fellow Democrats, who believe the reforms will keep down health care costs, decrease the deficit and create jobs.  Supporters of the current health care reform law cite a report recently released by the CBO that states repeal of the bill would increase the deficit by nearly $230 billion over the next decade.

    As dizzying as the back and forth between parties may seem, it’s important to understand how some of the law’s provisions (either repealed or implemented) will affect young people.

    Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs held a conference call for college journalists to sell the effects of health care reform on young adults. Gibbs opened the call by outlining the specific provisions that concern young adults.  Here’s a recap:

    1. Young adults can stay on their parent’s health care plan until they are 26 if their employer does not offer them health care.  Before the ACA, most insurance companies removed children from parent’s plans at 19.  In 2014, all young adults will be able to stay on their parent’s health care even if their employer offers health care benefits.
    2. The law ends discrimination against those under the age of 65 with pre-existing conditions.  Gibbs cited a report released by the HHS that states 129 million Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions that may disqualify them from receiving insurance without the reform bill.  In 2014, the law will prohibit denial of insurance based on pre-existing conditions for all age groups.
    3. The new law helps create jobs.  Gibbs stated that since the law’s implementation, over 1 million private sector jobs have been created.  He estimated that the without the law, 250,000 to 400,000 jobs will be lost each year.

    To get a better idea of the major provisions in the reform bill, check out this timeline.

    Gibbs echoed a sentiment expressed earlier this week that the Democrats were excited to have a second chance to explain health care reform to the American people. He also stated that though the parties may not agree on how to reform this country’s health care system, the leaders should use the current bill as a foundation and build on it rather than taking steps backwards and repealing the entire bill.

    Despite the overwhelming vote today, former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (TN) disagreed with his party’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He argued that health care reform is now the “law of the land” and, as such, Republicans should drop the repeal and build on the current law, echoing Gibbs’s idea of last year’s bill as a foundation for health care reform in this country.

    Despite the revival of the health care debate, voters neither support nor oppose the current bill in an overwhelming majority. Polls indicate that some voters love the reforms, some hate them, but the majority of Americans fall somewhere in the middle.  About half the country trusts President Obama with health care reforms, while the other half trust the Republican party.  Experts, meanwhile, have cast doubt on the job killing-ness (or crushing-ness) of bill. The debate rages on.

    Do you support the Affordable Care Act or do you want it repealed? Comment below and let us know!

    Maeve Coyle
    Bio: Maeve is Rock the Vote's Communications intern.
    Email the author at: blog(at)rockthevote.com