And Health Care for All

Everyone I know with asthma, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, HPV, HIV, migraines, MS, PCOS, or, you know, any chronic illness or health condition ought to be calling their own senators, their representatives, Senate Majority Leader, Senate Minority Leader and Paul Ryan.

Before the Affordable Care Act (colloquially called Obamacare), insurance companies could refuse to sell you insurance if you had previously been diagnosed with an illness you might again need treatment for (HHS, WebMD, LATimes. Or those insurance companies could set a dollar amount beyond which–no matter how much you pay in premiums and no matter how diligent you were in paying your premiums–your insurance would simply stop paying for your medical care. (HHS, CBS)

In the middle of the night last night, under the direction of Mitch McConnell, the Senate passed a budget which includes the first steps to gut the ACA and they have done so with no plans to replace it. (They’ve had years to come up with something but they have not). Please note, this process is not the same as actually repealing the ACA; it affects all the provisions differently and it’s really complicated. But what is not complicated is that the ACA helps society and that the GOP has proposed no alternative.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that (yes this many) 20 million Americans had health insurance for the first time since the passage of the ACA. The Washington Post reports over 11 million persons have enrolled in the current enrollment period which ends January 31. This means people can have annual check-ups to stop problems early. They don’t have to go to emergency rooms for routine care and hospitals don’t have to write off the costs of the visits.

With repeal of the ACA, we return to allowing health insurance companies to refuse coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, allowing health insurance companies to drop children from their parents’ plans as soon as they turn 18 (whether they have other options or not), and allowing insurance companies to decide you’ve simply spent too much money on health care and your insurance won’t pay for things anymore.

The ACA is not perfect (I am among those who would prefer national health care to requiring health insurance for everyone–health insurance companies do not act in the interests of the insured people but in the interests of their business, after all). But repeal without a replacement plan is bad government.  These men (McConnell, Shumer, Ryan) need to hear that from you.

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