A new website shares the powerful stories of lives saved by the Affordable Care Act.

A year after being diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer, Kelly Angard is waging a fight for not only her life, but for millions of others.

Over the past 12 months, the 52-year-old self-employed photographer and artist has undergone chemotherapy and surgery and is once again going through another round of chemo. With insurance, her treatment costs her around $16 per month; without insurance, her out of pocket costs rise to more than $5,200 per month — unaffordable on virtually anyone's budget. Without treatment, it's probable that her cancer would reach a terminal stage within months.

Kelly Angard and her daughter. Photo courtesy of Kelly Angard.


Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Angard would have found it nearly impossible to find health insurance.

Thanks to the 2010 law, also known as "Obamacare," Angard couldn't be denied coverage on the basis of having a preexisting condition. At the time of her diagnosis, Angard was still on her recently-separated husband's insurance, and while she was able to stay on his plan for a while, she'd eventually found herself in need of her own policy. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, she couldn't be turned away due to her cancer diagnosis.

November's election brought a renewed call from the law's opponents for its repeal. That's when it hit home for Angard that she may soon lose what coverage she has.

"It hit me like a freight train," she says, noting that she had been rediagnosed just weeks before the election.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Angard.

She teamed up with two other women to create Faces of the ACA, a website dedicated to boosting the stories of individuals whose lives have been saved because of the law.

The political rhetoric surrounding the law has overshadowed the reality of what its repeal would mean to the millions of people who benefit from it. Angard, along with Anjali Fernandes and Mary Afifi, launched Faces of the ACA to help take the discussion surrounding the law beyond the rhetoric.

"So many people do not understand — they hear the talking points, but they don't really understand what that exactly means — what that looks like for a person [like me]," she says.

"I've had the idea in my head that people just want to be heard. Obviously, even more so now, in this environment after this election, people want to be heard. So, in a nonpartisan way, the idea of having a place where people can have a voice came into my head. I was overwhelmed with doing it on my own, but through conversations ... with a few other people, I said, 'I really believe that we need to get our faces in front of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and the others.' And the lady I was talking with said, 'Yes, we do.' She said, 'Faces of the ACA.'"

Faces of the ACA has a simple goal: to push back on the politicized approach to health care.

And that's exactly why Angard wanted to avoid using the term "Obamacare" across the site.

"I don't want it to be a political issue at all," she says. "And so I made no political issue on the site because everybody has health needs. Calling the law by its respectful name was very important to me."

Photo by Luke Sharrett/Getty Images.

It turns out that when you ask people about what the Affordable Care Act actually does, they like it.

According to a December survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 85% of the public support the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26, 83% support eliminating out of pocket costs for preventative services, and 69% favor the provision that bans insurance companies from denying coverage on the basis of preexisting conditions.

That same poll found that just 26% of the public want the law completely repealed. 30% of Americans actually think the law needs to do more.

Repealing the law would have some potentially disastrous effects.

The Urban Institute, a public policy think tank, found that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause nearly 30 million Americans to lose their insurance. Of those newly uninsured, up to 36,000 people may die as the result of no longer having access to health care.

Misconceptions about the law, however, continue to run rampant, and that's why stories from people whose survival depends on it are so very important.

Most of us have benefited from the law in one way or another. Still, many don't seem to understand what the legislation actually does. In October, then-candidate Donald Trump appeared to confuse the set of standards and regulations (what the law consists of) with some sort of insurance plan all on its own (which is not what the Affordable Care Act is).

Another common, if somewhat misunderstood, argument against the legislation is that it's driving the cost of insurance up. The reality is that this problem existed long before the law was passed, and interestingly enough, it was opposition from some of the more conservative members of Congress that eliminated the possibility of a "public option" — something that would have helped rein in those yearly increases. While the average premium increase for plans bought through the Healthcare.gov marketplace increased by 22%, few were actually affected by this, as the available subsidies increased as well.

As of this writing, Faces of the ACA has roughly 100 stories from a wide range of Americans.

From Luanne T., who was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 13, to Mark D., who shared his story of being denied coverage pre-ACA due to a clerical error, it's worth taking your time to visit the site and see just how many people depend on the ACA and what it would mean to lose it.

This really shouldn't be a partisan issue. The U.S. is one of few industrialized countries not to guarantee health care for its citizens, and while even many of the law's proponents would argue that a single-payer system would be an ultimately better solution, the Affordable Care Act is a big step in the right direction — and Faces of the ACA shows why.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act stand outside the Supreme Court in 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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