On the heels of the 9th anniversary of President Obama’s signing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Trump Administration has unfortunately escalated its attack on Americans’ health care.
President Trump’s Department of Justice officially changed their legal position by supporting a judge’s ruling that dismantles the entire ACA — from its protections for pre-existing illness to health care coverage for millions of Americans in the ACA Marketplace and through Medicaid expansions.
The Trump Administration’s decision will allow those diagnosed with cancer, heart conditions, diabetes or other illnesses to now be kicked off their insurance plans. It means those living with pre-existing conditions will once again be forced to choose between paying for prescription drugs and doctor visits or paying their mortgage and utility bills.
After Republicans in Congress and the President nearly succeeded in repealing the Affordable Care Act in 2017, we saw an immediate and resounding backlash from the American people demanding that they keep the law in place — a backlash that played a key role in electing a new Democratic-controlled House last November.
But when Republicans failed to repeal this historic legislation through Congress, the Trump administration decided to go after the ACA in a much more insidious and discreet way. Not the president’s usual style.
Now, President Trump’s Department of Justice is refusing to appeal the ruling in Texas v. U.S. that repeals protections for pre-existing illness and the ACA entirely. In a letter Monday night, the administration decided, “it is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgment be reversed.”
This could mean that Central Coast residents like Kris Fininen in Atascadero, who was laid off, cannot purchase an insurance plan on the ACA exchange. John Galbraith in Santa Barbara, after surviving Stage 4 throat cancer, might be denied coverage by insurance companies. Baylee Gregory’s family from Lompoc may now have to pay $27,000 a month for her variable immunodeficiency medications, meaning certain bankruptcy.
Clearly the president has not faced similar financial burdens, given his repeated attempts to take health care away from millions of Americans.
The grassroots efforts by the American public saved the Affordable Care Act two years ago, but this latest Department of Justice decision completely ignores the will of the American people and Congress.
The newly elected Democratic majority in Congress is working to expand affordable health care, lower health care costs and fight the administration’s efforts to eliminate it.
This week, House Democrats introduced legislation to protect people with pre-existing conditions, reverse the Trump administration’s continued health care sabotage, and implement new measures to lower health insurance premiums for families.
The ACA brought us closer to affordable care for all Americans, but there is still work to be done. Too many Americans still pay far too much for insurance and prescription drugs.
That’s why we must provide a public insurance option for people to buy into.
Giving everyone access to affordable health care coverage is a priority, especially in counties like San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara that only have one provider left on the ACA exchanges. By introducing competition to the market, we can dramatically lower health care coverage costs.
The American people have had enough of GOP attacks on people with cancer, asthma and other pre-existing conditions.
I will continue to fight relentlessly to protect people with pre-existing conditions and to deliver lower health costs and prescription drug prices for every American. I hope you’ll join the fight and speak out against this misguided decision.
Santa Barbara Democrat Salud Carbajal represents District 24 in the House of Representatives.