It's hard to believe it has been five years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. For some of us, we were fighting for healthcare reform long before that.
I remember in 2008 wearing my purple "I'm a Health Care Voter" T-shirt with pride when we demanded every presidential candidate have a plan to ensure access to quality affordable care for every man, woman and child.
Since the ACA became the law, I have fought for Medicaid expansion and shared with others--at community centers, farmers markets, even grocery stores--how the law works. I remember one woman from a family of seven describe how she was just "making do"--meaning they only went to the doctor when they were in crisis and rationing medication. The affordable coverage and preventive care they accessed has been life changing and it's helping them live healthier lives.
As we look back, we have a lot to be proud of--but I sure don't want to go back. We've made too much progress to put our healthcare future back in the hands of insurance companies. I certainly don't want to go back to patients cutting their pills in half because they couldn't afford to refill a prescription or pay for another doctor visit; when individuals could be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
Now, thanks to the ACA and the work of SEIU members and our partners to educate about the benefits of the law and enroll our families, our neighbors and our co-workers:
- More Americans have affordable healthcare coverage than at any other time in the last four decades;
- Communities of color and young people are getting access to care in greater numbers;
- More than 11 million men, women and children are enrolled in expanded Medicaid and CHIP; and
- Hospitals saved an estimated $5.7 billion in costs to care for the uninsured last year.
It's hard to believe some extremists are putting politics over these incredible gains. After 56 unsuccessful votes to repeal the healthcare law, congressional Republicans have proposed in their budgets submitted last week to not only defund the law, but to do away with it altogether. Furthermore, they're backing King v. Burwell, the U.S. Supreme Court case that could be the biggest threat of all.
We can't let that happen. We won't let that happen.