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Americans speak out in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Obama added his voice.

With a vote on a possible replacement bill looming, President Obama steps in.

Americans speak out in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Obama added his voice.

With the future of health care in the U.S. on the line, people are making their voices heard — loudly.

Calls are flooding members of Congress urging them to vote against the Affordable Care Act replacement bill currently being considered by the House of Representatives. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-New York) said calls from his constituents are 1,000-to-1 against the bill.

People rally in support of the Affordable Care Act outside the Supreme Court on June 25, 2015. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.


Millions of people are taking action against the bill and urging Congress to save the ACA.

This morning, one more name joined the chorus: former President Barack Obama.

Obama signed the ACA into law, and on the seventh anniversary of that landmark legislation, he released a statement in its defense.

Obama delivers his farewell address on Jan. 10, 2017, in Chicago. Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images.

Here are seven important points Obama made that'll inspire you to call your member of Congress ahead of today's vote.

1. The days before the Affordable Care Act were rough. Really rough.

"When I took office, millions of Americans were locked out of our health care system. So, just as leaders in both parties had tried to do since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, we took up the cause of health reform."

When he took office, an estimated 45.7 million Americans were uninsured, putting them just one catastrophic event away from drowning in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in medical debt. Annual premium increases were skyrocketing, and something needed to be done. That something was the Affordable Care Act.

Felue Chang, newly insured under an insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act, receives a checkup in 2014. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

2. Change is hard and doesn't happen overnight.

"It was a long battle, carried out in Congressional hearings and in the public square for more than a year. But ultimately, after a century of talk, decades of trying, and a year of bipartisan debate, our generation was the one that succeeded. We finally declared that in America, health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for everybody."

Health care reform was a long time coming, and the ACA was a powerful step in the right direction. To see all that work erased would be a shame.

President Obama signs the bill into law on March 23, 2010. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

3. The Affordable Care Act helped improve an unequal health care system and required compromise from both parties.

"Thanks to this law, more than twenty million Americans have gained the security and peace of mind of health insurance. Thanks to this law, more than ninety percent of Americans are insured — the highest rate in our history. Thanks to this law, the days when women could be charged more than men and Americans with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage altogether are relics of the past."

The ideas that netted those results didn't come from any one party. For example, the individual mandate — the requirement that all Americans get health coverage, which drove down the uninsured rate — was originally a Republican idea supported by Sen. Orrin Hatch and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Many Democrats, including Obama, were in favor of either a public option or a single-payer system, but they scrapped those ideas in the name of compromise.

People rally at the Supreme Court to support the ACA in March 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

4. Misinformation about the law existed before it was passed, and it thrives today. Here are the facts.

"Since the law passed, the pace of health care inflation has slowed dramatically. Prices are still rising, just as they have every year for decades — but under this law, they’ve been rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. Families who get coverage through their employer are paying, on average, thousands of dollars less per year than if costs kept rising as fast as they were before the law. ... [T]his law is no 'job-killer,' because America’s businesses went on a record-breaking streak of job growth in the seven years since I signed it."

Remember "death panels" (PolitiFact's 2009 "Lie of the Year")? The latest iteration of that sort of misinformation comes in the form of claims that the ACA is in the midst of a "death spiral," with premium costs soaring out of control.

Vice President Biden gets caught on a hot mic telling President Obama that passing the law is a "big f-ing deal." Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

5. The law is not perfect. But if Democrats, Republicans, and independents work together, we can fix its flaws.

"So if Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they’re prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals — that’s something we all should welcome."

The current plan being considered by Congress doesn't accomplish those goals. In fact, with a Congressional Budget Office estimate of as many as 24 million people losing coverage under the replacement plan, it would almost certainly be an unmitigated disaster that makes life harder for the majority of Americans.

Sen. Al Franken touts the positive aspects of the ACA during a March 2015 press conference. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

6. The Affordable Care Act is the result of everyday people making their voices heard. We need those same voices today to help protect the law.

"The Affordable Care Act is law only because millions of Americans mobilized, and organized, and decided that this fight was about more than health care — it was about the character of our country."

People protest the Trump administration's attempts to replace the ACA on January 25, 2017. Photo by David McNew/AFP/Getty Images.

7. Whether we see health care as a right or as a privilege for just a select few says a lot about who we are as a country.

"It was about whether the wealthiest nation on Earth would make sure that neither illness nor twist of fate would rob us of everything we’ve worked so hard to build. It was about whether we look out for one another, as neighbors, and fellow citizens, who care about each other’s success."

Are we the kind of country that puts people over profits? Are we able to empathize with someone who doesn't look like us, talk like us, think like us, or pray like us to ensure that they have a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What direction we take here — whether improve the system or dismantle it — will say a lot about not only who are as a country, but who we want to be.

If that's the kind of country we want to be, then now is the time to call our members of Congress and urge them not to gut the Affordable Care Act, but to improve it.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

When the COVID-19 pandemic socially distanced the world and pushed off the 2020 Olympics, we knew the games weren't going to be the same. The fact that they're even happening this year is a miracle, but without spectators and the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the events, it definitely feels different.

But it's not just the games themselves that have changed. The coverage of the Olympics has changed as well, including the unexpected addition of un-expert, uncensored commentary from comedian Kevin Hart and rapper Snoop Dogg on NBC's Peacock.

In the topsy-turvy world we're currently living in, it's both a refreshing and hilarious addition to the Olympic lineup.

Just watch this clip of them narrating an equestrian event. (Language warning if you've got kiddos nearby. The first video is bleeped, but the others aren't.)

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