In the days leading up to Trump’s inauguration, Fusion is highlighting some of the issues most important to our readers and what to do to prepare for the incoming administration and their proposals, many of which look to undo the progress of the last eight years. Up next: health care.
What Trump has been up to:
Trump made repealing Obamacare—aka the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—a signature catchphrase of his campaign: “Repeal it, replace it, get something great!” And a Republican Congress, who has been fighting tooth and nail to strike down Obama’s landmark legislation, eagerly jumped on board, bringing the first part of that refrain closer to reality last week with the Senate passing a budget resolution in the dead of night.
That second bit, though—the part about actually having an alternative? Republicans haven’t gotten there yet, and it’s becoming a source of real friction between Trump, the GOP, and the tens of millions of American citizens who may lose coverage altogether.
Of the 20 million people who gained coverage under the ACA, nearly three quarters got it through the Medicaid expansion and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Not only could they lose their coverage without a replacement, health insurance premiums are predicted to surge about 20% to 25% for all individuals buying insurance on the exchange, and will continue to rise every year. Repealing Obamacare will adversely affect even those who get insurance from their employers by potentially limiting women’s contraceptive choices and imposing mandatory waiting periods for clients with pre-existing conditions.
Trump has been pressuring the GOP to move quickly on repealing and replacing the ACA, perhaps forgetting that it took two years to get the healthcare bill passed in the first place. And in a recent interview, the president-elect implied he’d support universal health insurance, leaving Republicans scrambling to explain why that couldn’t have been what he meant. Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for Trump—or literally any other Republican leader—to come forward with their own health care proposal. On the GOP docket as well is the possible privatization of Medicare, which more than 50 million Americans rely on.
But it won’t just be American citizens’ health that may suffer from the Trump-GOP one-two punch. Trump’s team is also looking to undo George W. Bush’s signature AIDS relief program in Africa—which has provided care and support to 6 million African children and prevented another 2 million from being born with HIV.
Who’s answering the call:
On the legislative front, Democrats, without a Senate or House majority, will have a hard time combating Republicans who want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite their best efforts. Still, many Democratic leaders have been relentless in their opposition, including but not limited to senators Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, Tim Kaine, and Tammy Duckworth.
A number of major medical associations and coalitions have lobbied Congress not to repeal the ACA without a replacement. This includes the Alliance for Healthcare Security and the Protect Our Care coalition. And #Medicare4All is not only vouching to protect Medicare, but to extend single-payer national health insurance (the kind Bernie Sanders vouched for in his presidential campaign).
How you can help:
First things first: Protect yourself. Contact your primary health provider and make sure you see your doctor and consult with them about the best way to go forward, including getting advanced prescriptions if you’re in danger of losing your healthcare. Even if you are on private insurance, an ACA repeal will affect you too, so do your research.
Make sure to call your rep (#Medicare4ALL has a handy script you can use) or consider signing up for updates from Families USA, part of the Protect Our Care coalition. Also consider making a regular donation to Planned Parenthood, which the GOP is trying to defund, to ensure that women still have access to safe reproductive health care in the foreseeable future.
If you—or someone close to you—are on Medicaid or on the exchange and have benefited from it, tell your story loud and often. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and your local representatives about your experiences. Democrats combating the repeal efforts will be relying on their constituents’ testimonies to make the case for Obamacare—narratives that have proven to be powerful in relaying what’s at stake, and to battle misconceptions about the current law. Just watch this former Republican voter, and cancer survivor, tell his story to Paul Ryan to see how.
Reading list/resource links:
- Health Law Repeal Could Cost 18 Million Their Insurance, Study Finds (The New York Times)
- What doctors think of Obamacare (CNN)
- Doctor’s Orders: Don’t Repeal Obamacare Until You Have A Plan To Replace It (Huffington Post)
- Healthcare lobbyists prepare for a frenzy (The Hill)
- ‘Protect Our Care’ group plans to push back against repeal of health law (PBS)
- Trump tells Congress to repeal and replace health care law ‘very quickly’ (The New York Times)
- Republicans say they assume Trump didn’t mean to promise universal healthcare (BuzzFeed)
- Get health insurance through your employer? ACA repeal will affect you too (HealthAffairs.org)
- Why Tump must keep Bush’s incredible AIDS program (The Atlantic)
- Fight 4 Medicare
- Families USA: Protect Our Care
- Care Not Chaos
Up next on How to Survive Trump’s America: Come back tomorrow to find out how to protect and advance women’s rights under a Trump presidency.