2 Chicago area residents to attend State of the Union

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Monday, January 11, 2016
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Cedric Rowland, of Chicago, will attend the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Two people from the Chicago area will be guests in the First Lady's box during the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Michelle Obama invited Cedric Rowland, of Chicago, and Gloria Balenski, of northwest suburban Schaumburg, to join her in Washington, D.C.

According to the White House, Balenski "lost her job after 34 years at a major electronics company, the money they invested for their son's college dried up in the free-falling stock market, and Norb's job at Chevrolet was threatened when the auto industry cratered. But the actions the President took when he came into office to pull us away from the brink of depression and to secure quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans, helped safeguard Norb's job and his health insurance. And just in time as he suffered a major heart attack in 2012, racking up $400,000 in medical bills. Gloria and Norb wrote the President a letter last year thanking him for the economic priorities he pursued at a time of turmoil, which Gloria credits with helping her family to bounce back. Today, Gloria is retired, her husband has recovered, and her son recently married, has a job and purchased a new home."

As for Rowland, he is "the lead navigator for Near North Health Service Corporation in Chicago. Working with people to find the best plans available at a price they can afford, Affordable Care Act navigators help people across the country take advantage of the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and are part of the success of the law. Since November 1, 2015, nearly 11.3 million consumers - more than 3 million of them new customers - have signed up for health care in this open enrollment alone. Our uninsured rate is at the lowest rate on record, coverage is affordable, and we're seeing a historic slowdown in the growth of health care costs. Cedric's role in this progress can be seen in the story of Stephanie Lucas. Stephanie has diabetes and no longer qualified for Medicaid, but with Cedric's help she transitioned to a Marketplace plan that met her needs and let her keep her doctor at a price she could afford - $62 a month after tax credits. "

President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union speech 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The address can viewed live on ABC7 and abc7chicago.com.