With memory of Eric De La Cruz case still in focus, non-profit organization hopeful for equal access to affordable health care for society’s sickest and most vulnerable.
NEW YORK, NY – June 26, 2012 – As the Supreme Court’s ruling on historic health care reform legislation looms, the Eric De La Cruz Hope For Hearts Foundation continues to work for heart transplant patients in need, many already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While founder and television journalist Veronica De La Cruz continues to find patients in need across the country, personal experience has sharpened her focus on the progress of the historic health care reform law through the courts.
“We have seen first-hand how much financial need exists among uninsured or under-insured people who require heart transplants,” stated De La Cruz. “And the laws governing our rights to health care are the foundation of support for these people. Even before many of the law’s provisions have been implemented, I have seen the Affordable Care Act benefit people whom the Foundation is trying to help.”
Health care reform is already helping under-insured patients like Sean Semon – who recently received insurance coverage under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) – and young people like 24-year old transplant recipient Colby Salerno, who – thanks to the ACA – could elect to stay on his parents’ insurance until the age of 26 if he so chose.
De La Cruz’s own brother, Eric, passed away in July of 2009 while awaiting a heart that had been delayed when he could not obtain insurance coverage due to a pre-existing condition. As detailed in interviews on The Morning Show (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XILMyiw9NI) and in Glamour magazine (http://www.hopeforheartsfoundation.org/Glamour.pdf), Eric was denied insurance and coverage under Medicare until the late stages of his struggle with cardiomyopathy. In his memory, De La Cruz rallied supporters and met with lawmakers to support changes that would make a difference for patients like him.
“My brother Eric would certainly have benefited – and might even be alive today – if our laws ensured access to affordable health care in this country,” stated De La Cruz. “In 2009, Eric’s death helped cast a national spotlight on a colossal problem affecting nearly every community and demographic in this country, and it mobilized thousands to push for much-needed change. A decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act now would make me feel that Eric’s death – and all the efforts he inspired – were in vain. More importantly, such a move by the Court would reverse historic progress that has been made in the past two years – progress that, while not perfect, is at least a huge step in the right direction. We cannot afford such a rollback on our rights to accessible health care.”
Among the Foundation’s recent beneficiaries, Semon’s acceptance under the PCIP – established last year as part of the Affordable Care Act – means he may finally not have to worry so much about being unable to afford the transplant he needs. The new coverage promises to pay for much of his treatment and transplant surgery, a prospect that seemed nearly unthinkable when the De La Cruz first met Sean in 2009.
And for people like the younger Salerno, who at only 24 recently received his life-saving heart transplant, provisions introduced under the ACA would allow continued coverage under parents’ insurance until age 26 if so elected, potentially making a huge difference for families struggling to afford the medications and treatments transplant recipients will need for years. The Foundation has also pledged funds toward Salerno’s insurance premiums for the coming year.
“A decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act now would make me feel that Eric’s death – and all the efforts he inspired – were in vain. More importantly, such a move by the Court would reverse historic progress that has been made in the past two years – progress that, while not perfect, is at least a huge step in the right direction. We cannot afford such a rollback on our rights to accessible health care.”
In addition to forming the non-profit Eric De La Cruz Hope For Hearts Foundation in 2010 to provide financial assistance to transplant patients in need, De La Cruz also spent substantial personal time supporting efforts to change health care laws to bring access to life-saving care to all citizens. Her visits to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers like Harry Reid and Charles Schumer gave her perspective of the hard-fought gains the ACA has brought to people like the Semon family.
“The Affordable Care Act has brought more people who were previously uninsured under coverage, and the new laws are enhancing the access we all have to more affordable care,” notes De La Cruz. “If struck down, either in part or as a whole, it would represent a giant step backward. But based on the growing number of people affected by the shortcomings of our insurance industry, such a ruling would only mean an even more aggressive effort to overhaul our health care system in coming years.”
In addition to the fund-raising events in New York and Las Vegas, the Hope For Hearts Foundation runs organ donation awareness and education campaigns through its social media presences. De La Cruz has announced that she is planning additional events in coming months to help further promote organ donation and raise funds for heart transplant patients who remain uninsured or under-insured.
About the Eric De La Cruz Hope For Hearts Foundation
The Eric De La Cruz Hope For Hearts Foundation is a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to transplant patients in need and offers awareness and education programs aimed at supporting those facing the challenge of obtaining a heart transplant. The Foundation was formed in 2010 by De La Cruz after the death of her younger brother, Eric, who suffered from severe dilated cardiomyopathy and was denied insurance coverage for a heart transplant due to his pre-existing condition. Eric De La Cruz passed away on July 4, 2009 while awaiting a heart transplant. For more information about Eric De La Cruz, please visit at http://www.ericslaw.com/press.html or watch Veronica’s touching interview about him in 2009 on the Morning Show at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XILMyiw9NI. Those interested in learning more about how to support the Eric De La Cruz Hope For Hearts Foundation and the transplant patients that they assist should visit the organization’s website at http://www.hopeforheartsfoundation.org. For more information on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, please visit http://www.supremecourt.gov, where a decision is expected on Thursday, June 28, 2012.
About Veronica De La Cruz, Founder
Veronica De La Cruz is an MSNBC anchor and one of the current hosts of NBC’s Early Today Show and MSNBC’s First Look. In addition to her role as an MSNBC anchor, De La Cruz is an active volunteer with groups promoting health care reform. Ms. De La Cruz’s full bio is available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42131556/ns/msnbc_tv-meet_the_faces_of_msnbc/ and two recent MSNBC PSA’s on heart health can be viewed at http://www.hopeforheartsfoundation.org/Cooking.html and http://www.hopeforheartsfoundation.org/Exercise.html.