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Obama's message responding to the Senate health care bill is a must-read.

3 important lessons from the former president's latest message.

Obama's message responding to the Senate health care bill is a must-read.

The Affordable Care Act is perhaps the most significant piece of legislation former President Barack Obama enacted — and he's not giving up on it just yet.

As Senate Republicans introduced their ACA replacement bill earlier today, Obama published a thoughtful note to his Facebook page. Clearly, he opposes the bill, but it's about much more than that.

Our politics are divided. They have been for a long time. And while I know that division makes it difficult to listen...


Posted by Barack Obama on Thursday, June 22, 2017

In fact, there are three key takeaways from his post.

1. "This debate has always been about something bigger than politics."

While he recognizes that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has been one of the Republicans' top priorities for the past several years, he hopes that the Senate will "step back and measure what's really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did."

"I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did.
We didn’t fight for the Affordable Care Act for more than a year in the public square for any personal or political gain — we fought for it because we knew it would save lives, prevent financial misery, and ultimately set this country we love on a better, healthier course."

President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, 2010. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

2. "While the Affordable Care Act represented a significant step forward for America, it was not perfect, nor could it be the end of our efforts."

For the first time in history, more than 90% of Americans have health insurance, people can't be discriminated against on the basis of pre-existing conditions or age, and a number other benefits have resulted from the ACA's passage.

"If Republicans could put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I would gladly and publicly support it."

ACA supporters demonstrate outside the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

3. "There’s a reason we all chose to serve in the first place, and ... it’s to make people’s lives better, not worse."

Members of Congress should consider what led them to a life of public service, and as constituents, we should remind them.

"[I]t remains my fervent hope that we step back and try to deliver on what the American people need.
That might take some time and compromise between Democrats and Republicans. But I believe that’s what people want to see. I believe it would demonstrate the kind of leadership that appeals to Americans across party lines. And I believe that it’s possible — if you are willing to make a difference again. If you’re willing to call your members of Congress. If you are willing to visit their offices. If you are willing to speak out, let them and the country know, in very real terms, what this means for you and your family."

Demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on March 4, 2015. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

We, the people, can use this as an opportunity to let our elected leaders know exactly what we expect for them. We, the people, can urge them to move beyond Democrat and Republican and instead fight for all of us as Americans.

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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