With Rep. John Lewis
June 29 - After more than a century of debate, President Obama and Democrats in Congress won an historic victory for the American people with passage of the Affordable Care Act.
Immediately after the law was passed by Congress and signed by the president, opponents of health care reform mounted legal challenges to repeal that progress.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of the law, which has already expanded availability of health insurance for millions of Americans and protected them against catastrophic medical expenses.
With more than 50 million citizens without insurance and costs that increased 50 percent from 2003 to 2010, someone needed to take the lead, and we did.
Among other reasons, we passed this law because life-sustaining hospitalization was a leading cause of bankruptcy for working Americans, and seniors were choosing between buying medication and putting food on the table.
The law protects those who suffer from pre-existing conditions, prevents insurance companies from dropping Americans who get sick, helps seniors pay for prescriptions, allows young adults to get coverage through their parents, provides small business owners with tax credits and bans insurance companies from continuing their practice of charging women 150 percent for the same coverage as men.
Ensuring that all Americans have access to insurance, the law spreads the costs over the whole population - including younger and healthier people.
Under the law, more than 100 million Americans are already benefiting from no lifetime limits on their coverage and more than 17 million children with pre-existing conditions now have insurance.
These advances are just the beginning of the law's benefits. Most take effect in 2014 when 30 million more Americans will be covered.
Georgia small businesswoman Amy Morton is relieved the Supreme Court has upheld her insurance lifeline.
Due to a pre-existing condition, this time last year she was among the more than 2 million Georgians - including nearly a quarter of the women in the state - without health insurance.
Morton and thousands of other previously "uninsurable" Georgians are getting coverage thanks to the law. Now Amy, and millions of others, nationwide with pre-existing conditions, can breathe a little easier.
Joe Lowery of Clarkston is benefiting from the law by keeping his two adult children on his health plan. With the law upheld, Lowery is pleased that he can help his children - of two of more than 3 million - by keeping them on his insurance until they can afford it on their own.
The law is helping Marion Nurse of Atlanta. She's one of 3.6 million seniors and people with disabilities who have collectively saved more than $3 billion on their prescription drugs. Without the law, she could not afford the heart medication that keeps her alive.
Tea Party Republicans promised repeal of the law. They have failed, and the highest court in the land has upheld it. This is a tremendous victory for the American people.
Yet Tea Party Republicans won't give up their over-the-top, blatantly false rhetoric about the "government takeover" of healthcare. They continue to shower activists with empty promises of repeal.
Why dismantle the most significant progress this nation has made in health care in more than 60 years? Are opponents really advocating on behalf of the American people or are they more interested in denying President Obama a victory? Are they less interested in your well-being and more interested in profit margins for insurance companies?
The Supreme Court has affirmed the Affordable Care Act. It is the law of the land. Democrats in Congress will be looking to perfect and enhance the ACA. This is no time to regress. Let's move forward together making health care coverage affordable and accessible to every American.
Follow Rep. Hank Johnson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@RepHankJohnson