by Joye Barksdale | October 01, 2013
UPDATE: The budget shutdown has ended with an agreement that leaves the Affordable Care Act (ACA) virtually untouched. And importantly, it includes back pay not only for furloughed federal workers, but for state and local government and non-profit workers as well – a key AFSCME priority.
The extremists in Congress huffed and they’ve puffed, but they could not bring the Affordable Care Act down.
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders participated in an event today to acknowledge that, despite the shutdown engineered by tea-party extremists, today is the first day families can begin signing up for comprehensive health insurance plans. Coverage takes effect Jan. 1.
“Today should be about how far our nation came in providing access to affordable health care. But instead, a small faction of extremists in the United States Congress made it about themselves and their tea-party agenda,” said Saunders.
“The extremists spent two years trying to undo health care reform. They held 42 votes to repeal it. They challenged the law in court. They ran a Presidential campaign based on killing it,” Saunders said. “And because they couldn’t stop the law, they did the worst thing elected representatives could possibly do: They shut down the government.”
He said those who hung a ‘Closed for Business’ sign on the Capitol “don’t want to negotiate. They want to dictate.”
Saunders pointed out several benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Beginning in January, millions of low- and middle income families will get tax credits to make coverage more affordable. Millions of others who are at or near the poverty line will have access to Medicaid coverage. He also noted the law includes provisions that no longer lock people out of coverage because of pre-existing conditions or kick them off of plans because they get sick.
Today’s event was sponsored by Americans United for Change and featured Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), other leaders of Congress, small-business owners and activists in the fight for accessible, affordable health care.
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