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MSNBC Celebrates ObamaCare Anniversary, Condemns Republican 'Lies' About Law

In Wednesday's 12PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer touted the one year anniversary of the passage of ObamaCare: "One year ago today, President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. It wasn't soon enough for Eric De La Cruz, who needed a heart transplant." The headline on screen read: "Why We Need Health Care Reform: A Personal Story."

Brewer spoke with Eric's sister, Veronica De La Cruz, who serves as anchor of MSNBC's First Look at 5AM ET and NBC's Early Today at 4AM ET. Brewer observed: "It's got to be bittersweet, because you fought for health care reform in that process, but on this anniversary, it comes too late to help your brother." De La Cruz had no qualms about describing her enthusiastic lobbying for ObamaCare: "...it is bittersweet, you're right. But I made a promise to my brother....I started speaking out at health care rallies, vigils, anybody who would listen to Eric's story."

Brewer quickly turned the discussion to politics: "...there are still opponents who are fighting this, there are still Republicans who say it's time to go in and repeal health care reform. They say that in the United States, even people without health insurance can get medical treatment. That you have access, if you live in the United States, you have access to quality medical care."

In response, De La Cruz harshly ranted against the GOP:

It is a lie. It is - it's unbelievable....for the Republicans out there who are saying that this system, this status quo works, I don't know what planet they're living on. But I have to say, after my brother passed away, I went to Washington, and I talked to members on both sides of the aisle to help craft this legislation, to make sure that they all knew about my brother's story. And every time I would walk into one of those offices, a Republican office, there were so many lies out there. You know, there are just - I mean, health care reform, it was supposed to kill your grandma. It was supposed to be a death panel. The only death panels I've seen are the ones happening in Arizona with Governor Jan Brewer and the cuts to Medicaid that she's implemented.

Near the end of the segment, De La Cruz encouraged viewers to read here ObamaCare-promoting article on the left-wing blog, The Huffington Post. In that article, she praised the "historic passage" of the legislation and lamented how Americans still remain "confused" over the issue due to the "historic levels of rhetoric which served to obscure the actual components of an already lengthy bill."

Here is a full transcript of the March 23 MSNBC segment:

12:13PM ET

CONTESSA BREWER: One year ago today, President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. It wasn't soon enough for Eric De La Cruz, who needed a heart transplant. He couldn't get insurance through his employer because he had a pre-existing condition and he couldn't find private coverage either to pay for treatment. His sister, Veronica, tried raising money and awareness and won the support of thousands of people, including everyday Americans and celebrities. But Eric died on July 4th, 2009.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Why We Need Health Care Reform: A Personal Story]

Veronica De La Cruz is now my colleague here at MSNBC and she joins me on this anniversary of passing health care reform. It's got to be bittersweet, because you fought for health care reform in that process, but on this anniversary, it comes too late to help your brother.

VERONICA DE LA CRUZ: Absolutely. It does. And it is bittersweet, you're right. But I made a promise to my brother, Contessa, when he was dying, and I said, 'You know what, I promise you, I will do everything - everything I can within my own power to make sure this doesn't happen again.' And so after he passed away, I mean, there was that month that I spent in bed with the curtains drawn and didn't talk to anyone.

But as soon as I was able to pull it together, I got on the road. I started speaking out at health care rallies, vigils, anybody who would listen to Eric's story, really. And, you know, you're right. It is bittersweet. But I want people to understand that, look, this is going to take some time to implement. You know, the magic isn't going to happen overnight. All of the major provisions of the bill don't even take place until 2014. There are a lot of people out there who have no idea what this means for them.

BREWER: I've got to ask you, because there are still opponents who are fighting this, there are still Republicans who say it's time to go in and repeal health care reform. They say that in the United States, even people without health insurance can get medical treatment. That you have access, if you live in the United States, you have access to quality medical care.

DE LA CRUZ: It is a lie. It is - it's unbelievable. I mean, look at my brother. Look at what happened to him. I am a person who, when this happened to my brother, I was working at CNN. My brother was a college student, he was working part time at a web design firm that only employed seven people. None of those people had insurance. It was such a small company. But what health care reform does now is it offers tax credits to small businesses, so maybe this would never have happened to my brother.

BREWER: Or the fact that he was a college student, maybe he could have been covered under your parents?

DE LA CRUZ: Right. College kids now, or young people in general, can stay on their parents' plans until they're 26 years old. There's a girl out there, Emily Schlichting, who I've been speaking with, she has a life-threatening illness and she was thinking, 'Do I drop out of college to get a job just so I can stay insured?' Because of HCR and the passage of it, she can go ahead and finish her college studies. And, I mean, my brother is a prime example. I mean, he, honestly, unfortunately, became the face of a system that was broken.

And I'm somebody who understands the system, was able to get the word out there, had a platform. I started tweeting and Trent Rosener from Nine Inch Nails was reading my Twitter page and his management get in contact with me and say, 'Look, we're in the middle of this worldwide tour and we want to help fund-raise for you.' We raised almost $1 million for my brother's heart transplant.

And even after we had all that money, we still couldn't get him into a hospital. UCLA Medical Center was saying, 'You still need supplemental insurance to make sure that he can pay for the anti-rejection drugs even after he has a transplant.' People don't understand how difficult it is to maneuver the system. And unfortunately, they never do until it's too late.

So for the Republicans out there who are saying that this system, this status quo works, I don't know what planet they're living on. But I have to say, after my brother passed away, I went to Washington, and I talked to members on both sides of the aisle to help craft this legislation, to make sure that they all knew about my brother's story. And every time I would walk into one of those offices, a Republican office, there were so many lies out there. You know, there are just - I mean, health care reform, it was supposed to kill your grandma. It was supposed to be a death panel. The only death panels I've seen are the ones happening in Arizona with Governor Jan Brewer and the cuts to Medicaid that she's implemented.

BREWER: The way things stand right now, there have been changes that are implemented as we speak. So for instance, pre-existing conditions are no longer allowed as a reason to deny children health insurance.

DE LA CRUZ: Right.

BREWER: Are you satisfied with the progress?

DE LA CRUZ: I am. You know, look, any journey worth taking begins with a single step, and we are headed in the right direction. The fact that, yes, kids, up until the age of 19, now they cannot be denied by their insurers, perfect, great. In 2014, hopefully that's going to apply to all Americans. Something needed to change, you know, and the fact that my brother is still inspiring that dialogue, you know, means a lot. And I miss him dearly, but, you know, I always say that was his greatest gift.

BREWER: I'm so sorry for your loss. I really am.

DE LA CRUZ: Thank you.

BREWER: And I'm sure that he's so proud of the hard work that you've put into this, and that you carry such passion with you.

DE LA CRUZ: I appreciate it. Thanks. And I just wanted to say, I wrote a piece in the Huffington Post today - Don't cry, because you're going to make me cry - and Hope for Hearts Foundation is something I set up in my brother's honor, so if you wanted to check it out, it's there.

BREWER: Veronica, thank you.

DE LA CRUZ: Thank you.

- Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.