Saturday, January 8, 2011


The first order of business for the new U.S. House of Representatives appears to be a repeal of the health care legislation passed in early 2010. Though I've worked in media and communications for nearly 10 years, I don't claim to be a messaging genius. But I am consistently frustrated by what appears to be the overwhelming superiority of Republicans when it comes to messaging. Not just with health care, but with other issues as well, Republicans often strip an issue to a core idea that resonates with large numbers of people. With health care and other issues, President Obama has been criticized for a tendency to over explain a message. Once one explains something too much, the message is often lost. Health care in particular seems to be a perfect opportunity for democrats, or anyone in support of the current health care law passed last year to focus in on a core idea -- everyone has a right to access health care -- in order to build support.

For myself, and hundreds of other people with dwarfism, one simple idea within the current health care legislation was enough to win support of the package. Prior to passage of the law in 2010, people with dwarfism had no recourse if we were denied coverage by an insurance company. Because dwarfism is identified as a pre-existing condition, insurance companies were within the realm of the law if they denied us coverage. I heard many stories of individuals and families who couldn't find health coverage. One tragic example resulted in the death of the brother of a friend and colleague of mine. My friend's brother had a relatively health issue, but couldn't find private coverage and he didn't qualify for Medicaid.

The 2010 Health Care Legislation finally gave people with dwarfism and with other pre-existing conditions a legal tool. The legislation makes it illegal to deny coverage based upon pre-existing conditions. Now, with the turnover in Congress, health care is vulnerable to repeal. The media reports that the House may vote on repeal this coming Wednesday. Fortunately, again according to media reports, the Senate will most likely vote against a repeal. But considering that the Republican majority in the House is much greater than the Democratic majority in the Senate, Health Care appears to be at risk.

I am happy that the President's Administration is mounting a strong defense of the legislation, speaking out on the benefits of the law and the importance of the law. Here is an opinion piece published earlier this week in the Chicago Tribune by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

As the debate around repeal grows louder this coming week, my hope is that people with dwarfism, people with pre-existing conditions, and all people who value the idea of access to services to remain healthy will come forward with a simple message -- health care is a human right; I won't let you take that away.

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