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Obamacare’s bright promise

By Ed Zygmunt
May 7, 2014

April 1, 2014 will forever be a bright spot in American history, as President Obama announced from the White House Rose Garden that more than seven million Americans secured health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. For these deserving Americans, having quality, affordable health insurance was no April Fool’s joke. It was a dream that finally came true.

As the President reminded us, this great achievement didn’t happen without a struggle. I know exactly what he meant. Chris Carney was in his second term in Congress when the Affordable Care Act became the center of the nation’s attention. As his field representative here in the sprawling 10th congressional district, I was Carney’s eyes and ears back home while he dutifully served his constituents in the nation’s capital. Believe me, I heard and saw it all. I remember well those crazy days when the political spin-meisters convinced so many Americans that Obamacare death panels were going to kill Grandma. My fellow staffers and I still share our tales about the contentious town hall meetings Rep. Carney so bravely held in all 14 counties of his district. And I certainly will never forget the day the Pike County Sheriff had to rescue me from a rowdy crowd of Obamacare opponents. It was not a pretty sight.

But those stories meant little compared to the personal tragedies that Rep. Carney and I heard everywhere we traveled in the 10th district: families losing their homes because they couldn’t afford the huge medical bills from a life-threatening illness; women dropped by their insurance company soon after being diagnosed with breast cancer; distraught parents desperate to secure insurance coverage for their child with a pre-existing medical condition. I could go on and on. So when the time finally arrived for Rep. Carney to cast his crucial vote, there was never any doubt he would place the well-being of his constituents above all else, knowing full well it could mean the end of his political career. And ultimately it did, for a little while anyway.