By Steven Lopez, Manager, Health Policy Project, NCLR
Yesterday was a tough day. It’s okay to be angry. We are, too.
The 217-213 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is certainly a hard pill to swallow for those of us who believe that more children and families, not fewer, should have the opportunity for quality, affordable, and accessible health care.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: what House Republicans passed yesterday puts lives in jeopardy.
It puts in jeopardy the peace of mind of parents who—thanks to the ACA—can take their kids to a pediatrician instead of the emergency room. It puts in jeopardy the working families who are protected from debt and bankruptcy in the event of a medical emergency under the ACA. It puts in jeopardy the life of the cancer survivor who knows she is here today because insurance companies could no longer shut her out under the ACA.
The AHCA is probably the worst piece of domestic policy we’ve seen in years and it’s worth repeating the staggering amount of pain the bill would inflict. The AHCA would:
- Strip an estimated 24 million children and families of their health coverage
- Cut more than $800 billion from Medicaid, jeopardizing the health of children, people with disabilities, and seniors
- Eliminate state Medicaid expansion, a provision that has helped over three million Latinos gain coverage
- Leave individuals with pre-existing conditions like cancer and diabetes vulnerable to high-cost care
- Make it easier for insurance companies to sell skimpier plans that don’t cover mental health, maternity care, and other essential health benefits.
Given this parade of horribles, it’s no wonder only 17% of Americans supported the AHCA. What’s even more outrageous is that House Republicans voted to do all of this while also giving enormous tax cuts to the rich.
Yesterday’s vote was not the outcome we wanted and fought for, and we are certainly outraged. But we have to take that rage and channel it into action because one thing is clear: the fight is not over and we have the power to stop this.
We must continue the fight
So what’s next? As our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, said in her statement: “While this vote is a setback, it should also be a call to everyone around the country who has stood up and spoken out to protect and defend our health care system to continue to be active in this effort. We need your voices and your resolve to keep fighting and hold our elected representatives accountable.”
It’s crucial that your representatives hear from you: their constituents. Call 202.224.3121 to reach the Washington, DC office of your Member of Congress. Tweet at them, or email them. And if you need to know how your representative voted, find out here.
Thank those who opposed the AHCA. And remind those who supported the AHCA that they voted for a cruel bill. Let them know that in the days, weeks, and months ahead they will be held accountable for their unconscionable vote.
And then we will turn our attention to the Senate and work aggressively to protect and defend the 24 million lives the GOP has decided are not worthy of health care.
Your voice matters. Your vote matters. Let’s rise up and fight on.