It’s down, but it’s not out.
Recently, we just saw the Republican-controlled House pass the American Health Care Act. Just like a villain from a horror movie, it has made a comeback, and now doomsday seems imminent.
The AHCA is still terrible, and mainly because it comes from a bad place. As community workers in Fresno, we believe that this proposed plan would leave our most vulnerable populations without access to vital health care services, and quite frankly, it represents all the barriers and isms these populations face on a daily basis: sexism, racism, classism, ageism and so much more.
It’s bad policy and it’s really being devoured by the politics of hostility and acrimony. These are the elephants in the room. The folks who are pushing AHCA the hardest are filled with the most malice. Yes, they make some claims that are accurate, and correctly state that the current plan, the Affordable Care Act, is far from perfect. But rather than working to improve the health-care safety net, the hardliners want to rip it away and replace it with what exactly?
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The AHCA will raise premiums and deductibles and cut coverage for 24 million Americans. Furthermore, it will let insurance companies stop offering basic services like maternity care, check-ups for kids, prescription drugs or even hospital and doctor visits.
The AHCA would be the death of the Medi-Cal expansion, leaving 3 million working adults in California without healthcare. In Fresno County alone, 50 percent of residents are enrolled in Medi-Cal. They will lose coverage if the bill in its current form passes.
Residents are worried how they will be able to pay for checkups and prescription drugs. One resident is a single adult going to school full time, and working part time. She doesn’t qualify for her parents’ health insurance anymore since she is over 26 years old.
She depends on Medi-Cal coverage which allows her to see a doctor for her breathing problems and covers her diabetes medication, insulin, and inhaler.
While politicians are busy trying to dismantle the ACA to claim fame as health care heroes, everyday people will be left with no insurance, many will die because they no longer qualify for assistance. This doesn’t sound like a great bill. So, what’s really going on here?
Here’s what we think is happening. For one thing, what’s in a name? The ACA is commonly referred to as Obamacare, and those who labeled it this way, did so derisively. It was an attempt to mock the former president.
There is more proof that this wasn’t politics as usual. It was personal. Here are a few examples: the level of obstruction perpetuated by Obama’s rivals was unprecedented; blatant disrespect of the president during public addresses; the refusal to even have hearings on President Obama’s budget. The list goes on and on.
Now the time has come to undo a key piece of Obama’s legacy, but will they be hoisted on their own petards? Let’s look to “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” a late-night talk show.
The show hit the streets in January to ask people a simple question: if they preferred Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. Of course, there is no difference, but here is one response: “I’m not the biggest fan of Obama, so I don’t support him in the Obama things he’s got going on,” one woman explained after noting she preferred the ACA. “I’m actually really excited about President-elect Donald Trump.”
“So, you don’t like anything Obama does and you prefer the Affordable Care Act?” Kimmel’s reporter asked the woman.
“Absolutely,” she answered.
Now, people are being threatened with higher premiums and losing their health care entirely.
Many representatives from California and across the country, succeeded in demonizing our former president. Now they are the dog that caught the car, and it turns out the car is a big wheeler. They whipped people into a frenzy against President Obama, but now folks are seeing the light.
The elected officials who want to destroy the health-care safety net now have an even more difficult road ahead –nationally and locally. Here in Fresno, they can count on more pressure, more passion and more push back.
The AHCa has returned, but beware: advocates, neighborhood leaders, families, parents and concerned residents from across the community are ready and well prepared to again rise up and defeat this cruel bill.
Irma Luna of Fresno is a community worker for Centro Binacional Para El Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, a community-based organization in the Valley. She works with the indígenous farm worker community in educational programs as well as health care issues in their own indígenous languages.
Nu Vang of Fresno is a community outreach advocate with Fresno Center for New Americans. She educates the community about health care programs and issues through ethnic media, as well as advocating and helping with health care enrollment.