The jubilation of one couple echoes that of more than six million Americans.
When Dawn Erina got the news alert on her phone saying that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld the tax subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), she was in the car with her husband, Leonard.
“I just started screaming ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!'” she says, practically giddy with joy. “It’s so, so cool.”
Dawn and Leonard were among the more than six million people who were at risk of losing the tax subsidies that help them pay for health insurance. Without those subsidies, Leonard — who is retired — and Dawn, who works part-time, simply would not have been able to afford coverage.
I’ve been following the Erinas’ story since last year and I couldn’t wait to find out how they felt about the Supreme Court decision. To say Dawn is thrilled is an understatement. Our conversation was punctuated with laughter and a few happy tears from both of us.
Oh, my goodness, I can hardly say this without crying, but sometimes, the right thing happens. When I heard the news I thought, ‘Justice!’ The stress of what a decision against Obamacare might mean to us was really unspeakable.
Dawn says in the days leading up to the Supreme Court decision, she and Leonard tried to avoid thinking about it. Because she knew that if they lost their tax subsidies, they’d have to make some incredibly difficult decisions about their health, since they both live with pre-existing conditions.
We realized we might be in a position where we’d have to figure out whether we’d buy our medicine or our groceries. We really didn’t know what was going to happen, so I’m just elated.
Dawn thinks Republicans were actually just as hopeful as Democrats that the subsidies would not be struck down.
“What were they going to do with millions of us who would have been shattered by this?” she says. “Especially in an election season, they would have had to come up with a plan which, in all these years, they’ve been unable to do.”
Dawn adds that it’s certain now that the ACA will be President Obama’s signature legislation, or at least one of them.
Like the President said, ‘The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,’ and I say ‘Woo-hoo!’ When you talk to people, you can tell which side they’re on by whether they call the law the ACA or Obamacare, because Obamacare was considered something negative. Now we can all call it Obamacare — and say it proudly.
[CC Obamacare photo by Will O’Neill | Flickr]