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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Defending America's Health Care Lifeline

With the election of Donald Trump, we are on the verge of witnessing something rarely seen in American history – a march backward in time.

A Republican Congress that has already voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will happily join in Trump’s call to guarantee that its repeal is one of the first acts of his presidency. 

But millions of people across the country know that the ACA is working. In fact, the day after Donald Trump was elected, 100,000 people signed up for health insurance under the ACA – a one-day record.

And this slide to the past won’t stop with the repeal of the ACA. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – and the millions of individuals and families they cover – will likely be next. 

Families USA and many allies are committed to defending the people whose health care will be threatened by these reckless and cynical actions. And we will fight these efforts from the grass-roots level to the halls of Congress. Consider what is at stake:

  • More than 20 million people will be in jeopardy of losing their health insurance coverage. 
  • 130 million people with pre-existing conditions could face discrimination by insurers once again
  • Women could return to a world where insurers charge them much higher premiums simply because they are women. 
  • Millions of working individuals who finally gained health coverage thanks to Medicaid expansion, could lose it. Altogether the 72 million low-income people who depend on Medicaid for their lifeline will be in danger because of Trump’s plan to block-grant the program.
  • And, finally, we could see the return to the days when annual and lifetime insurance caps left people with severe illnesses or accidents in a “no-insurance zone” – a cruel and heartless region where the choice will be to go bankrupt or go without care. 

Each retreat will signal a rolling back of the clock to the days when indifference to the suffering of millions was national policy, with results measured in lives not lived to their full potential – and often tragically shortened.

To put this planned regression into perspective, consider this: Since Congress passed the Social Security Act in 1935, it has also passed 30 major amendments to strengthen the program, presided over by presidents of both parties. There was never any serious effort to repeal Social Security.

But that is precisely what a President Trump and his Congressional supporters plan to do with the health care of tens of millions of people – either take it away or drastically weaken it, without offering any practical alternative.

This cannot be allowed to happen in America. Our successes have always been like a new base camp where we pause, regroup, and plan our next route up the mountain.

We never look up to the summit and say: “We can’t do this. Let’s turn around and go back.”

I believe Dr. Martin Luther King was right when he said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But I would add that it bends under the weight of those who throughout history have looked with compassion upon the suffering of others, and then themselves became unbending in their efforts to make this a more just and equitable world for everyone.

Many of us are in the early stages of building a coalition of groups and individuals dedicated to defending the right of millions to quality and affordable health care from those who seek to take it away and return us to those days of indifference and needless suffering.

Add your conscience to our cause – your weight to our mission – and let’s keep bending that moral arc toward justice together.