Friday, February 3, 2012

A Prince George's Democrat's Personal Struggle for Health Care: "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" // A Defense of Obama

Karren Jo Pope-Onwukwe co-chairs Prince George's County's Action Committee for Transit. She also serves as a Maryland Democratic National Committeewoman. Today she has a worthwhile blog post about President Obama's health care plan and Black History Month on the DNC blog. Sorry DNC -- Maryland Juice is going to violate your intellectual property and cross-post this:
Karren Jo Pope-Onwukwe: "The Lord will make a way somehow." As we celebrate Black History Month, the words of this old hymn keep me encouraged and focused on re-electing President Obama. I was an early supporter of then-Sen. Obama because I knew that he “got it,” and I have remained steadfast.

In 1991, I was furloughed by my employer (later the company went bankrupt). As a part of the furlough benefit package, I was told that I could use COBRA to keep my health insurance. The COBRA coverage for my son and me would cost approximately $300 a month; I would receive a modest amount of severance pay; and I would be eligible to receive approximately $149 a week in unemployment benefits. But with a mortgage, a car payment, and other expenses, I could not afford the COBRA coverage. My ex-husband put my son on his insurance, but I went without health insurance for approximately two years.
It got so bad that my house was scheduled for foreclosure. I was able to get forbearance on my mortgage, and eventually it was reamortized. During that time, I diligently searched for work and was able to receive extended unemployment benefits while I went to school at night. I prayed that I would not get sick. When I finally secured a job, I was able to use the Earned Income Tax Credit to keep more of my earnings. The Lord did make a way for me during those two years; somehow, I made it through. I went on to law school and now have my own law practice and pay for my health insurance.

When I first heard Sen. Obama talk about health care, I knew that I had to help him.

The major issue during the 2008 campaign was health insurance, but by 2009, the economy had collapsed. I am very proud that in spite of the horrible condition that the country was in, President Obama did not abandon the working poor men and women, who like me, were simply trying to make it. The President understood that health insurance is a safety net for families. He continued to demonstrate his commitment to the less fortunate when he fought to extend unemployment benefit payments. I know the difference that extension made for the families of the 7 million people that were out of work, especially women.

Many times during periods of crisis, the needs of women and children are forgotten, but President Obama did not forget us. There are still women anxiously praying that they will be able to hold on until they can get health insurance. There are working women, who may have pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes and are not on medication. They are waiting for insurance. Throughout 2012, I will be working to re-elect President Obama because these women cannot afford to be left behind.

During his second term, President Obama will be able continue moving our country in the right direction and make health insurance a reality for the working poor. The Affordable Care Act will reduce persistent health disparities that have plagued African American communities that lack access to health care. The people that want to repeal the Affordable Care Act have no concern for the working women and men that need health insurance, nor do they care how chronic illness affects our community. President Obama does. 

The President’s opponents like to deride the Affordable Care Act by calling it “Obamacare.” But I believe those words actually express the reality behind the legislation—Obama cares. Passing the health care bill was tough, but its passage brought new meaning to the words “the Lord will make a way somehow.”

To get the facts about the President’s health care law, click here.

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