If President Trump repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA), both of my parents will lose their care.
Right now, I’m sitting at the airport in Kansas City, waiting to board my flight back to Washington.
I spent the weekend advocating for the ACA in Topeka with the Save My Care campaign and Senator Bernie Sanders.
Since the ACA became law in 2010, Republicans have called for repealing it ad nauseam.
Now that they hold the White House and both chambers of Congress, they have promised to act swiftly in scrapping health care.
They claim that it isn’t helping people, and that it costs too much.
But the reality is that repealing the ACA means as many as 30 million Americans would lose their care — my parents included. Further, rolling back the law would actually increase the federal deficit by $353 billion over 10 years.
That said, the most important consideration concerning ACA repeal is how this would affect the lives of everyday Americans.
We must focus our attention on how repealing health care could be the difference between pain and suffering, and wellbeing and happiness.
Both of my parents are self-employed.
My father is a landscaper and my mother operates our small family farm.
Growing up, I was privileged to always have access to health care because California’s Healthy Families program provided an affordable option for children in working class families.
My parents only had to pay about $12 per month to cover my brother and me.
However, given my parents’ working class income level, purchasing their own health insurance was beyond what they could afford.
My mother hadn’t had health care coverage since I was a baby. My father hadn’t had coverage since he was in college in the 1970s.
Both of my parents work blue-collar professions that require a great deal of manual labor.
Every week, my father can be found digging ditches, installing sprinkler systems, laying sod, and planting trees.
While I was a kid, I remember several occasions when he severely injured his back.
Given that he didn’t have health care coverage, he didn’t see a doctor.
The result was chronic back pain that he still experiences today.
When I say my mother manages our family farm, by that I mean that she plants the crops, tends to the crops, and ultimately harvests and sells the crops — all by herself.
This often-grueling work has resulted in a rotator cuff tear and back pain.
She could not afford to see a doctor about these injuries and therefore has endured long-lasting pain.
If my parents had been able to afford health insurance throughout their careers, I can’t help but think about all the pain and suffering that would have otherwise been preventable.
Everything changed when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010.
For the first time in decades, my parents could afford health insurance.
They started visiting the doctor again, both to address existing conditions and to receive preventative care.
Given that they are growing older now, both in their 60s, preventative care is critically important.
The fact that President Trump and congressional Republicans are playing politics with my parents’ health absolutely infuriates me.
And compared to many Americans who would be impacted by an ACA repeal, my parents are relatively well off.
I think about those who have chronic conditions, where access to care is literally the difference between life and death.
The fact that Republicans would put these folks’ lives at risk, simply for political gain, is the most disdainful excuse for governance that I can imagine.
As Senator Bernie Sanders said in Topeka, KS:
“We are working overtime to tell Republicans in Congress: You are not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act!”
This is a fight that I plan to see through to the very end. I hope you’ll join me.
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