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Anniversary of Affordable Care Act Marks Progress

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March 22, 2012

Hartford, CT - To mark the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, the man who organized a national grassroots effort to get it passed is speaking today about the lessons he learned and signing copies of a book he wrote about it. Richard Kirsch is the author of "Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States."

Kirsch says Tea Party activists got all the publicity when they raucously pressed their members of Congress to oppose the bill in the summer of 2009. However, the media ignored what happened next, he says, when citizens came out to tell their stories of suffering and even deaths of loved ones because they were denied health care.

"Health care supporters turned out in droves at town meetings held by Democratic congressmen, and those stories got the congressmen to go back to Washington and say, 'We're going to pass this thing.'"

Primary-care physicians in Connecticut say the law has already made a difference, enabling individuals to get preventive care for the first time without co-pays, and allowing young adult children to stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act later this year. Opponents claim that the individual mandate, requiring those who can afford it to buy health insurance, is unconstitutional. Kirsch sees another way for the law to survive.

"Even if the Supreme Court rules against that, there's still ways to enact key parts of the bill, but you need to have a president and Congress working to do that. So the fate of the bill, more than anything else, depends on the election for president."

Kirsch says the message of his book is that ordinary people, when they get organized, can still make change in the United States, despite the influence of the insurance industry, drug companies and lobbyists.

The talk and book signing are scheduled for 4 p.m. today at La Paloma Sabanera coffee house, 405 Capitol Ave., Hartford.

Melinda Tuhus, Public News Service - CT