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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 6, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 01
SGN exclusive interview:

Daniel Dawes, author of 150 Years of Obamacare: The History and Future of the Affordable Care Act
Section One
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SGN exclusive interview:

Daniel Dawes, author of 150 Years of Obamacare: The History and Future of the Affordable Care Act

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Daniel Dawes, an attorney and medical school administrator, has been in the middle of the fight for a national health care policy for many years.

On Sunday, January 8, Dawes will visit Seattle to introduce his new book, 150 Years of Obamacare: The History and Future of the Affordable Care Act. Dawes will speak at the Stroum Jewish Community Center, 3801 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island, at 4:00 p.m.

Dawes also spoke with the SGN to discuss the book and his work passing and defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare).

'Remember that conversation between President Obama and Vice President Biden?' he recalled. 'The vice president leans over and says, 'This is a big fucking deal!' Well, it's an even bigger deal for people like us: marginalized communities, people of color, LGBT folks.

'It's way more sweeping than any of us understand. The Affordable Care Act is the most inclusive law ever developed by Congress.'

Dawes is uniquely qualified to speak on the ACA. Now the Executive Director of Government Relations, Policy & External Affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine, Dawes was the founder and chair of the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform.

In that capacity he worked directly with the ACA's prime sponsor, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, and other congressional leaders to craft the law.

The provocative title, 150 Years of Obamacare, refers back to the Freedman's Bureau Act of 1865, which provided - among other things - for government-sponsored health care for newly freed slaves and poor whites displaced by the Civil War.

Unfortunately, the law was repealed when the federal government shut down post-Civil War reconstruction in an effort to reconcile with Southern whites.

'The Freedman's Bureau was only allowed to exist seven years,' Dawes pointed out. 'Ironically we're coming up on the seventh anniversary of the ACA, and Republicans want to repeal that too. It's eerie how history repeats itself.'

The ACA is important, Dawes says, not just because it provides health insurance for an unprecedented number of Americans, but even more because of its nondiscrimination provisions.

'Section 1557 [of the ACA] explicitly protects LGBT individuals,' Dawes says. 'It expands federal civil rights laws by including LGBT individuals.'

Ironically, the same day the SGN interviewed Dawes, a conservative federal judge in Texas blocked enforcement of Section 1557.

The disputed section of the ACA 'addresses health disparities that affect LGBT community,' Dawes explains.

'For example, the pre-existing conditions piece in the ACA. It's not just about HIV. We know that LGBT individuals are also at greater risk for cancer [and] obesity, and that they're more likely to experience violence in their daily lives.

'And it includes mental health reforms. LGBT people are two and a half times more likely to need mental health services.

'It also mandates data collection. Previous research often excludes LGBT individuals. Now they are considered a minority group, and the government is required to count them and track their needs.

'Section 1557 is a major, major civil rights protection,' Dawes continued. 'It provides a private right of action. In other words, if you're not being served by the system, you can sue for redress.'

Now, Dawes warns, all the benefits of the ACA are under attack.

'No one thought Trump would win,' he says. 'Now we're where we're at. The Republicans are not blowing smoke. They see health equity as 'socialist.' They mean to repeal [the ACA].'

Asked what SGN readers could do to preserve the law, Dawes urged people to contact their congressmembers.

'We need folks to call their representatives and let them know this is something they care about,' he replied.

'[Washington Sen.] Patty Murray - I want to sing her praises - she's been a leader on health care. We need to let her know we have her back.'

Tickets for Dawes' event in Mercer Island can be purchased at www.sjcc.org. His book is available at the event or through Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

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SGN exclusive interview:

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