Health care a winner for Democrats in Congress
Amid the Washington press corps’ preoccupation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and the ridiculous chatter from some Democrats in Congress about impeaching Republican President Donald J. Trump, there’s an issue bubbling on Capitol Hill that will resonate with the American people.
Indeed, the results of last year’s mid-term election confirmed the importance of the issue to the voters.
The takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives by Democrats is the direct result of Americans saying they do not trust Republicans to do the right thing when it comes to affordable health-care coverage.
Thus, last week’s push in Congress to ensure that a key provision in the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is preserved not only keeps faith with the voters but gives Democrats the opportunity to set aside their ideological differences in the interest of the nation.
According to the New York Times, hearings will be conducted this week on measures designed to secure protections under the ACA for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
There’s a sense of urgency on the part of Democrats because of a ruling by a Republican-appointed federal judge in Texas that the health-care law is unconstitutional.
Though U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s opinion has little immediate impact, it has emboldened Republicans who are committed to repealing and replacing “Obamacare.”
President Donald J. Trump, who has made several attempts to win congressional support for his own health-care initiatives, hailed Judge O’Connor’s ruling as “Great news for America!”
As the 2018 election showed, however, voters most concerned about health care support Democrats overwhelmingly. According to the Associated Press, health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of the voters in the November election, ahead of immigration and the economy.
The GOP’s fear-mongering campaign – Republicans on the campaign trail portrayed the ACA as socialized medicine – did not work.
But while the American people continue to trust Democrats to do the right thing when it comes to health care, such support will diminish if nothing is done to ensure that protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions are etched in legislative stone.
The fact is that millions of Americans who previously played Russian roulette with their health have peace of mind because of the Affordable Care Act. It was Democratic President Barack Obama’s major legislative accomplishment, and made it through Congress with Democratic votes only.
Republicans have used “Obamacare” as a political hammer, but as the takeover of the House by Democrats shows, the public is inclined to look at the issue objectively.
If the GOP succeeds in killing the ACA in the courts, millions of Americans with pre-existing medical conditions will find themselves out in the cold.
Last week, experts and ordinary citizens told Congress that Trump’s position in the Texas court case could be devastating to some patients, according to the Times.
The newspaper quoted a woman by the name of Elena Hung, whose 4-year-old daughter was born with chronic medical conditions that affect her lungs, heart and kidney.
“Our lives are already filled with uncertainty – about diagnoses, the effects of medications and the outcomes of surgeries,” Ms. Hung told lawmakers. “The one certainty we have is the Affordable Care Act and the protections it provides.”
In his State of the Union address last week before a joint session of Congress, President Trump said protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions must be a priority.
But the record on Capitol Hill shows that Republicans are not to be trusted when it comes to the health care of everyday Americans.
Therefore, it’s up to the new Democratic majority in the House and the Democratic minority in the Senate to ensure that patients with pre-existing medical conditions are protected, first and foremost. They must also ensure that the ACA remains a protective shield for millions of Americans who previously lived in fear of getting sick.