As we approach the advent of a new presidency, some GOP candidates are taking a hard line position on the Affordable Care Act, with at least two threatening to repeal it altogether. What none of them seem to acknowledge or care about, is how many Americans now genuinely depend on the ACA for survival. For many, the ACA is the only hope they have for getting the care they need from a medical system that has failed to serve them. The pain, misery and destruction to our economy that would ensue, should any heartless republican succeed in repealing the ACA, would be one of the greatest humanitarian crises this country has ever experienced.
By any measure, the ACA has been a resounding success, and a blessing for Americans struggling to pay for their health insurance. Since the introduction of the ACA, over 16 million uninsured Americans have gained health coverage, and a whopping 8 million more Americans have received an average of $270 per month in premium tax credits, making their healthcare far more affordable. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the ACA has improved racial and gender equality in healthcare across America, with the uninsured rate declining by over 9% for African Americans, over 12% for Latinos, and over 7% for women. The only group that could be considered mildly worse off as a result of the ACA, is white males, who are already the most privileged demographic, and can easily afford to pay more.
Ending the ACA would literally allow millions to die in the streets, unable to see a doctor simply because they cannot afford our ridiculously expensive healthcare. In addition, businesses all across America have aligned their strategies, budgets and processes with the ACA, and repealing this legislation now will mean that the millions of dollars spent making these adjustments will have been wasted, and millions more will have to be spent re-adjusting. We have to be empathetic to employers in America, who have already made this difficult adjustment – the economy needs legislative certainty, not a constantly changing political environment.
Pharmaceutical drugs, antibiotics and vaccines have made our nation healthier than ever, and resulted in the increased life spans we see today. To deny anyone access to these wonders of the modern world, is to deny them the gift of life and vibrant health, and that is simply un-American. We need to stay committed to the vision of universal healthcare, where access to the wonders of modern medicine are a human right, sustained and protected by the will and compassion of the American people. For it is only through compassion, that the least fortunate among us will be able to enjoy the spoils of medical progress that so many of us take for granted every day.