Health Victory Opens Way to Better Care for All

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Health Victory Opens Way to Better Care for All

"We need to make sure Democrats stand strong," says Hall, "and that Republicans know they will pay dearly for any future political actions that put our health care at risk." (Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Today, we have a lot to celebrate. We saved health care for 23 million people – and for our whole country.

Yes, it was the months of tireless effort by opponents of the Trump-Republican health care repeal effort that set the stage for the legislative defeat that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was forced to acknowledge Monday night.

Our sustained grassroots pressure derailed legislation that would have dismantled Medicaid, hiked our premiums and deductibles, and hurt people with pre-existing conditions – all while giving a $600 billion tax break to drug corporations, insurance companies and the ultra-rich. It also quashed a “plan B” by Republican leaders and the Trump administration to move an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in hand, in a gambit to get Democrats to embrace some form of “compromise.”

Since January, dozens of organizations representing millions of Americans have fought relentlessly to defeat this repeal-and-replace scheme. In all, People’s Action member groups, working in partnership with the Health Care for America Now coalition, pulled off hundreds of protest actions and town halls – including 100 in June alone. We generated tens of thousands of calls to Congress and engaged thousands of our members in sharing their personal health care stories – making what was at stake for our families and lives hard to ignore.

We’ve won another important battle, but this fight is far from over.

Republican leaders are right now working to gut Medicaid through the budget process now underway. And President Trump is renewing his threats to “let Obamacare fail,” with all of the consequences that would have for people needing health care and affordable coverage.

We need to make sure Democrats stand strong, and that Republicans know they will pay dearly for any future political actions that put our health care at risk.

Here’s what we must do in the weeks ahead:

  • Tell lawmakers it’s not acceptable for any person to lose their health care. We need to make health care more affordable. Not a single person should lose coverage or face higher costs under any health care legislation. Also, insurance companies and drug corporations should not be given any more power or opportunities to price-gouge us.
  • Fight for real health care solutions. There’s plenty Congress can do right now to start fixing health care as we drive toward Medicare for all. Create a public option in every state. Lower the Medicare age. Negotiate lower prices with drug corporations and make prescription drugs a public good. Eliminate deductibles. Say no to the misguided plans that Republican leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan are trying to push to privatize Medicare, ration Medicaid and cut spending on vital health services.
  • Remind Democrats that it was people – not politicians – who beat back health care repeal. This is not just a story of defections from the GOP’s far-right flank. The grassroots firestorm showed that Trumpcare is deeply unpopular, and that unpopularity disarmed Republican leadership attempts to get the votes they needed to take away our health care. With our pressure, we not only let Democrats know that repeal was unacceptable but made key Republicans back away, too.

Our lives were on the line, so we put our bodies in the streets – and stopped a political bulldozer. We’re going to have to keep up that winning pressure until health care is a public good available and affordable for every person in our country.

LeeAnn Hall

LeeAnn Hall

LeeAnn Hall is co-executive director of People's Action and People's Action Institute, a national organization of a million people in 30 states fighting for economic, environmental, racial, and gender justice.

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