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By Richard Asinof
PBN Contributing Writer
PROVIDENCE – The second birthday of the Affordable Care Act, which ushered in national health care reform, was celebrated today with doughnut holes, fresh apples and personal testimonies from Rhode Islanders whose lives have benefited as a result of the policy changes.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the crowd of about 100, including many state officials, that it was important to remember the difference between “the fantasy of the propaganda cloud” that surrounds public policy debate around health care in Washington, D.C., and real people.
“If you look at the propaganda cloud, there’s very rarely an actual person involved,” he said. “When it talks about health care reform, they call it ‘Obamacare,’ giving it a funny name, or it talks about rationing or socialized medicine, both of which are totally phony charges, but they whip things up.”
Whitehouse in turn praised Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts for organizing the birthday celebration. “I’m really glad that the Lt. Governor called us to together to remind us that, for real people, [the health care reform law] is making a real difference in real ways.”
Steven M. Costantino, the secretary of the R.I. Executive Office of Health & Human Services also spoke, comparing the health care reform efforts in Rhode Island to a two-year-old “child prodigy.” Costantino praised the courage and leadership of Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee to work in partnership with Roberts in setting up the state’s health care reform commission.
The event took place at the Providence Picture Frame & Dryden Gallery, whose owner, Geoff Gaunt, said that as a result of the new Small Business Healthcare Tax Credit, he had been able to continue to offer his employees “100 percent coverage” despite double-digit rises in his insurance premiums for the last four years.
Gaunt thanked CPAs Paul E. Moran and Richard A. Kaplan form the firm YKSM for their help and guidance in securing the tax credit. Moran said that about 15 percent of the firm’s small business clients would be claiming the tax credit this year.
Jane Natale, a local senior citizen from Providence, who worked in the banking industry for 38 years, praised the health care reform law for helping to lower the costs of her medications.
Brianne Day, a young adult under 26 and a University of Rhode Island graduate who works part-time as a physical therapist also praised the health care reform law, which enabled her to receive health insurance under her parents’ plans and provided her with the ability to receive weekly medication for severe allergies.
The event at the gallery also served as a showcase for the artwork created by Rhode Island School of Design students, “Making It Understandable,” a class project that attempted to answer the question: how can complex public policy such as the health care reform law be communicated to the public? To view the creations, visit makingitunderstandable.tumblr.com.