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Health care decision practical, political
Friends, foes weigh in on court ruling
 
Published Friday, June 29, 2012 12:47 pm
by Sommer Brokaw

Video: Ebony Shamberger

Leslie Boyd believes her son Michael Danforth might still be alive if affordable health care had been within their reach four years ago.

Boyd, who lives in Asheville spoke at a Charlotte rally Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

President Barack Obama pushed the ACA to extend health coverage to as many as 30 million Americans and signed it into law in 2010 with no support from congressional Republicans. Critics claimed that it was an unconstitutional overreach by federal government and sued to have the law overturned. 

“North Carolinians remain staunchly opposed to this threat to our liberty,” said Dallas Woodhouse, state director of Americans For Prosperity-North Carolina, a conservative activist group. “Now that the Supreme Court has made its decision, it's up to Congress to step in and repeal this law. Until Congress acts, this law will increase spending by over a trillion dollars in new spending and place bureaucrats between you and your doctor.”

The ACA is personal to Boyd. Danforth died of Stage III colon cancer at age 33. He was diagnosed three years earlier.

“This is my son Michael,” she said holding up his picture at the rally organized by Action NC at Gaffney Health Services.  “He died on April 1, 2008 because a birth defect is a preexisting condition. His birth defect left him vulnerable to cancer, and he couldn’t get the colonoscopies he needed to diagnose that cancer because he couldn’t get insurance because a birth defect is a preexisting condition.

“He suffered horribly. He was near death before they did anything for him. Before he died, he asked me to do what he called play the dead kid card in a positive way. Use his story to show people that uninsured people are not bums, they’re not lazy, they’re not nameless, faceless people.”

Boyd did just that. After Michael died, she left her job as a newspaper reporter to start a nonprofit called Life-O-Mike in Asheville, an advocacy organization for the uninsured. “My son was a high honors student at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Georgia,” she said. “He was headed for law school. He was a chef. He was a really, really kind generous human being, and I miss him every day. And I can’t get him back. But this morning I felt like he was with me, just for a minute, to thank me for the work.”

About 45,000 people die in America each year – one every 12 minutes – mainly due to lack of health insurance and access to care, according to a 2009 analysis by Harvard Medical School researchers.

“We won today,” Boyd said. “Me and Mike we won.”

Jean Busby, a diabetic who has been without insurance since she was laid off from her job in 2009, said she had to do without medicine for a year because of her preexisting condition. Through a transitional housing provided by the Park Road YMCA, Busby was able to get on a sliding scale program at Carolinas Medical Center that paid the bulk of her hospital bills.

“As of today, I’m still unemployed so the Affordable Care Act has really benefited me to keep my health going,” she said. “So at this moment I’m sure that I’m representing millions of Americans who are qualified to work, but because of the American economy that we live in now are unable to find employment.”

Pat McCoy, Action NC’s executive director, praised the court’s decision with the exception of striking down the federal government’s ability to coerce states to participate by threatening the withdrawal of Medicaid funding.

“Even though we’re disappointed the courts did change the penalty states might incur by not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act we do believe the legislators of North Carolina will understand this is a cheap opportunity to dramatically increase quality affordable health care here,” he said.

Although the court ruling is a victory for Obama, Republicans see it as an opportunity to rally opposition and support conservative candidates in November’s general election.

"Ultimately, the decision lies with the American people in November,” Mecklenburg County Republican Party Chairman Gideon Moore said. “Will we vote to continue the big government policies of President Obama? Or will we vote for responsible Republican leadership that will rein in runaway government spending and regulation and put America back on the right course for a brighter future?”

 

 

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