I’m sure there is a large percentage of people in my life who cringe every time I mention healthcare and earnestly wish I would just shut up about it already. They think I thrive on this conflict somehow, but that could not be further from the truth. The truth is that I get sick to my stomach every time I am at odds with someone. I get stress headaches. I hate it. But I care too much about it to choose the comfortable path of silence. Many people just think I’m invested in this because of my kids, and that is partially true. I will fight to the death for my kids and I wouldn’t know half of what I know if it wasn’t for them. The whole truth is much larger than that, because not only do I care about my kids’ access to healthcare, I care about YOUR access to healthcare.
So here we are after MONTHS of fighting for our literal lives and beating back multiple assaults on our access to healthcare, and the President has sidestepped the appropriate legislative channels and signed an executive order that will hugely destabilize our healthcare markets (healthcare is 1/6 of our economy, so it is not only important to the people who need medical care) and has decided to stop payments on CSRs (the subsidies that allow lower in income individuals/families to purchase insurance plans). This doesn’t concern my family. Josh and I are uninsured, J and N have CHIP (well, until they run out of funds because Congress failed to renew CHIP for the first time since its creation in 1997!), and K is on Medicaid through a waiver program (which the President is threatening with block grants, yet another upcoming battle). THIS is not an issue that will affect us, but it may affect YOU. If you buy insurance on your own, without help from your employer or subsidies, then YOUR costs are about to go up. ACA is still law and the individuals who are entitled to subsidies under the law will still get those lower rates, but if the government DOES NOT PAY, then insurers will have to charge other people much more to compensate. You can read more here. Of all the possible solutions to the problem of middle class people paying too much for marketplace plans, this seems to be the absolute worst one because it will literally make things worse for those same people. As for the cheaper plans that the executive order is supposed to provide, they are allowed to cherry-pick their customers (translation: deny those with pre-existing conditions) and are also exempt from providing essential benefits (translation: not cover the medical care that people need). This will also have the effect of turning the marketplace into a “high risk pool” full of those with pre-existing conditions or who actually need medical care (which will cause costs to rise further in the marketplace). I don’t understand how this is easing anyone’s burden. It seems to be a partisan statement and nothing more.
You might be thinking, “Well, I STILL don’t care because my family has insurance through our employers, and I am opposed to Obamacare in principle.” Okay, but what happens if you have to change jobs? Or if you get laid off? Or if your employer chooses to go with a non-ACA compliant plan that won’t cover your kid’s asthma or allergies or heart defect or mitochondrial disease or your next pregnancy or your husband’s high blood pressure? What about when your kids grow up and need healthcare and they have pre-existing conditions? Do you not want them to be able to get a plan that will actually cover the medical care they need? If your life has gone 100% to plan, then I am happy for you, but at some point, most of us have something happen to us that we can’t plan or hard work our way out of. Before you decide to be silent on this matter because it doesn’t seem to be your problem, do your due diligence and find out what is really happening and think of the ways it may affect you and your children.
As I said, these specific actions will not hurt my family directly, but I still care. I am not blind to the problems that other people are having in accessing healthcare or affording the medical care they need, nor am I indifferent to those struggles. I want things to improve, not just for my family, but for yours too. I want everyone to understand what is happening and how it will (or might) affect them, and have a chance to speak up before it is too late. The ACA is not perfect; as an uninsured person, I know this! I want to see bipartisan FIXES, that will help more Americans access the care they need. This is not a fix. This is a tantrum, and Americans deserve better. YOU deserve better.
If you would like to take action on these matters, here are a some actions from Little Lobbyists that are relatively simple:
(1) Call your senators! (202) 224-3121
Ask them to publicly state support for funding CSR payments (script at the link). These payments have helped lower-income individuals and families afford their health plans. Ask your senators to support bipartisan legislation to ensure these payments are made.
Without these payments, the ACA marketplaces will be immediately impacted as insurers will be prompted to withdraw, thus covering fewer people and driving up premiums.
(2) Call your Attorney General. Find their name/number here:
Ask him/her to take actions against the federal government’s decision to end CSR payments for the ACA.
(3) Tell your friends and family and neighbors and co-workers and classmates and everyone else you know to call their senators and AGs.
(4) Keep sharing your health care story! Share it on social media, write an op-ed, contact your local media. Talk about how protections in the ACA have helped your family. If your child is on Medicaid or CHIP, consider telling everyone you know about it; educate them on why your family needs this support, what it covers, and what would happen without it.
(5) Take care of yourself. This is going to be a long fight. Eat a good meal, get some sunshine and fresh air, spend time with loved ones, and get some sleep.
One additional action from me:
PLEASE contact your senators about approving CHIP funding (script at the link)!