A lot can happen in a year.
By Laura Packard, health care advocate and Co-Chair at HealthCare VoterCrossposted from amysmartgirls.com
March 6th was the one year anniversary of the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Republican attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — an attempt to literally rip health care away from millions of families, including me. Thanks to all our phone calls, the letters, the town halls and marches, that bill ultimately died in the U.S. Senate. But our fight continues.
If passed, this bill would have caused widespread damage to our health care system, with women and people with pre-existing conditions taking a direct and immediate hit. But that didn’t seem to phase lawmakers at all, and it was only the power of the people that brought this bill to a halt.
A little less than a year ago, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. So health care policy became very personal for me, very quickly. I spoke out and did events locally both before and after my chemo treatments. I went to Washington. I was kicked out of town halls. And I was even blocked by the President on Twitter as I begged him to stop the efforts to take away my health care. I had to use my voice while I could because it’s our lives on the line. Including mine.
Without the protections of the ACA, I would probably be dead. During this fight, I have heard stories from people around the country that struggle just to get the care they need to stay alive. They are nearly crumbling under the continued assault from Washington.
We have an obligation to stand for those that are not able to do so themselves, to do what we can to protect the people most in need.
As a strong health care advocate and a Co-Chair at Health Care Voter, I am one of the thousands of people — and thousands of women — across the country who are standing up and fighting back. We are calling our Senators and Representatives, we are visiting their offices, we are signing petitions, and we are speaking up online.
In the last year, I have fought hard to protect the Affordable Care Act and make sure that we hold our elected officials accountable. But I will not stop. I cannot stop. At the end of the day, we need to make sure our lawmakers hear us and know that they put our lives at risk when they play around with policy.
Speaking up is important, it is inspiring, and — in the case of the AHCA — it made the difference.
The AHCA legislation was yet another attempt to dismantle our health care system, and give that money to the millionaires and billionaires instead. Per the Congressional Budget Office, the bill would have resulted in 13 million more people uninsured by 2026.
Women would have seen drastic cuts to vital medicine and procedures. Medicaid faced $834 billion in cuts. It threatened to destabilize individual insurance markets and would have made insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions that need it most.
The winners of the AHCA would have been America’s wealthiest people. And the rest of us would have been left to pay the tab, some of us with our lives.
These effects were not secret, and both voters and lawmakers were aware of the AHCA’s danger. They still would have voted for it, but we stopped them that time. They’re not done, though.
In the months since the bill’s failure, Republican attacks on our health care have only continued. Republicans have not relented — they have taken every opportunity to sabotage our access to affordable comprehensive health care. By the end of 2017, 3.2 million more Americans were uninsured compared to the year before. President Trump and Republican lawmakers have made it clear that they will not slow down their attacks. So we need to step it up.
Lawmakers can try to ignore one of us — the President can block some of us — but they cannot persist against all of us united. This November, join me by becoming a Health Care Voter and holding our elected officials accountable.
Let’s show them just how loud our voices can become.