Yesterday’s vote in the House to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) was devastating. We are one of the richest nations in the world and are about to deny people access to affordable healthcare — a human right. Millions of people around the country will now be stuck in deadly limbo, unable to afford life-saving care. This bill was so awful, hospitals and even some insurance companies came out against the legislation.
We spoke out by the millions — Congressional offices were flooded with calls, but apparently, some Members of Congress had no problem tuning out the voices of their most vulnerable constituents.
Although Republicans didn’t wait for a score of their latest revisions — according to the most recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis, the AHCA would result in 24 million people losing insurance by 2026. Some Republican Representatives even went on camera and shamelessly admitted that they hadn’t actually read the bill — which, considering how profoundly it affects hundreds of thousands to millions of their constituents, is completely unconscionable.
How awful is it? Let me count the ways.
It slashes $880 billion from Medicaid. It undoes critical provisions that guaranteed coverage for all Americans regardless of pre-existing conditions- such as pregnancy, cancer, diabetes, or rape (yes, you read that right. Sexual assault is considered a pre-existing condition. So is being a woman.) Over 17 million people have pre-existing conditions in this country (not counting those who are senior citizens).
People with disabilities, mental health issues and chronic conditions will lose access to necessary health coverage, effective immediately — that affects everything from kidney dialysis to oxygen tanks to chemotherapy to heart pills. So blatant is the pure cruelty of this legislation, that it even has a paragraph on how early deaths will save the government money: $3.3 billion will be saved on Social Security payments because people are going to die earlier without adequate healthcare access.
Glad we got our priorities straight there.
This bill harms low-income people, people of color, women, and transgender people — even veterans. States will no longer have an individual mandate to provide coverage, meaning millions of people who rely on Medicare and Medicaid, as well as low-cost insurance through the healthcare exchange, will suddenly lose their coverage in states that choose to opt out.
Ironically, districts that went for Trump are among those most heavily impacted by the sudden loss of coverage. Hospitals will be strained and forced to turn away people who suddenly no longer qualify for health insurance.
Premiums for senior citizens will skyrocket as much as 750 percent, putting a huge strain on elderly populations, who are also more likely to rely on slim benefits to eke out an existence in their golden years.
Slashes to reproductive healthcare funding will take a huge toll on women and families; some 30 percent of women consider their reproductive health practitioners to be their primary care doctors, and reproductive healthcare facilities in many regions are the only doctors around for miles.
People of color already face systemic barriers to healthcare access — key provisions in the Affordable Care Act have sought to mitigate this and ensure that full, quality healthcare is being provided to key at-risk communities. It is almost inevitable — we will see increased rates of uninsured populations, and drastic rates of advanced cancer and mortality among people of color.
Transgender people also face serious barriers to care; a critical part of the ACA ensured that transgender people cannot be denied access to quality care due their gender identity. This is a life-saving provision that protects people against prejudice and reckless disregard in the medical and insurance communities.
I could go on and on about how dangerous and deadly this irresponsible, reckless piece of legislation is. But I am writing to you all most importantly to emphasize that the fight is not over. We will keep fighting with every ounce of strength for the millions of people at risk of losing life-saving care. For people of all ages, genders, degrees of health and abilities, we will keep fighting. We have to.
The battle for access to affordable healthcare will continue now in the Senate. And we need you.
Please, get out your phones and call your Senators now —we have to fight this with everything we have. The consequences will be deadly almost immediately if this legislation passes in Congress. Every single one of us is at risk.
We all know people who have benefited from life-saving care as a consequence of the American Care Act (ACA) — our families, our neighbors, our loved ones, our friends.
Too much is at stake. Though we are heartbroken by the results of the vote in the House, we have to keep moving forward and continue to fight together.
Join us. We may have lost the battle, but we can win the war.
Dr. Gabriela Lemus
President, Progressive Action Fund
P. S. We are mobilizing to protect healthcare access with every available resource- and we are committed to fighting attempts to deprive people of life-saving care. Can you contribute $1 or $3 to this critical fight today?