From NBC's Athena Jones and Alicia Jennings
Here's a bit of color before President Obama's bill signing:
The president will be introduced by Vice President Biden. The White House says Obama will be using 20 pens to sign the bill.
Some of the attendees at the bill signing aside from the members of Congress: Vicki Kennedy, Connie Anderson, Ryan Smith, Marcelas Owens,
Per the White House, here are bios for Anderson, Smith, and Owens:
Connie Anderson (Seville, OH)
Connie Anderson is Natoma Canfields sister. On December 29, 2009, Natoma Canfield wrote the President a letter describing her struggles with the rising cost of health insurance and how she could no longer afford her health insurance policy because of a recent exorbitant rate hike by her insurance company. In 2009, her insurance company increased her premiums by over 25 percent. When she learned that her monthly premiums in 2010 would again increase, this time by 40 percent, she could no longer afford her health insurance and had to drop her coverage altogether. Natoma wrote that because she would be uninsured, she was afraid that she would now be one unexpected health emergency away from losing her family home, which her parents built in 1958. She urged the President to stay focused on health reform because she and others are in desperate need of help. The President read and personally responded to Natomas letter, and he shared her letter during a recent meeting with the heads of the nations largest insurance companies, where Secretary Sebelius asked them to justify their recent rate increases. Two weeks ago, Natoma collapsed, was takento an emergency room, and has since been diagnosed with Leukemia. Natoma and her family are struggling to determine how they will afford Natomas medical treatment now that she no longer has insurance, which she dropped in January 2010 because of the rate hike. Under health reform, insurance companies will be held accountable to prevent insurance industry abuses, and Natoma could have access this year to a temporary subsidized high-risk pool for uninsured Americans with premiums that would not be based on her health condition. As well, under reform, Natoma will have access to affordable health insurance through Medicaid or in the new health insurance exchange, where she could qualify for tax credits to help her purchase coverage.Her insurance will also include important consumer protections such as no annual or lifetime limits and no rescissions. Unlike todays insurance market, under health reform insurance companies will not be able to deny Natoma coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
Marcelas Owens (Seattle, WA)
In the past couple weeks, Seattle 5th grader Marcelas has become a nationally recognized spokesperson for health care reform in honor of his mother. She died because she didn't get the health care she needed after she got sick, lost her job and her health insurance. The day after his 11th birthday, Marcelas headlined a press conference in Washington, DC with Senate leaders. Marcelas' message to Congress was simple: "Finish health care reform. No other kid should lose their mom because they don't have health care." Marcelas' mom, Tifanny, worked as a restaurant manager and had health insurance. In September of 2006, she got really sick. Her doctors struggled to diagnose her illness, and Tifanny worked as long as she could while getting more and more sick. She would sometimes miss work because she was too sick and eventually, she had lost so much work that she lost her job, and along with her job went her health insurance. Without health insurance, Tifanny faced a barbaric choice - put food on the table for her kids or go to expensive doctors appointments that, without her job, she could no longer afford. At one hospital stay, Tifanny was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, but because she no longer had health insurance she was not able to afford the ongoing proactive treatment that she needed to go to battle with a tough disease. According to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, while many Pulmonary Hypertension patients go too long without an accurate diagnosis, some receive prompt, effective treatment and are able to manage their disease for 20+ years. In June of 2007, Tifanny died at the age of 27, leaving Marcelas and his two younger sisters without a mom. Marcelas shares his story as a way to continue his mother's fight for health care reform and to ensure that no other kid loses their mom or someone they love because they don't have affordable health care.
Ryan Smith (Turlock, CA)
On January 27, 2010, Ryan emailed a letter to the President. Ryan is a small business owner with five employees. He currently provides health insurance to his employees, but he is struggling with rising health care costs. Health care is currently his second largest expense after his payroll, and although he wants to provide health insurance to his employees, he anticipates having to drop his health insurance due to increased cost. Under health reform, Ryan could be eligible this year to receive a small business tax credit to help him offset the cost of providing health insurance to his employees. In addition, he will have access to many new affordable options in the new health insurance exchange.