After a 217-213 vote today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the American Health Care Act. While it has not been signed into official law yet—it still needs to be approved by the Senate—the GOP-approved health care plan has overcome a major hurdle on its way to becoming law.
The future of the health care system in the U.S. is nothing short of tumultuous. “ObamaCare,” also known as the Affordable Care Act, has been the health care option since 2010, but not without major anger from the right. One of the major goals of the GOP has since been to repeal and replace the ACA.
Now, with a new administration and Republican majority across all major legislative bodies, the GOP has been on a tear to reform health care in the U.S.
Under the ACA, Americans are guaranteed coverage for a minimum set of health benefits. These included emergency services, maternity coverage and continued coverage without fees increasing despite pre-existing conditions.
The AHCA claims to offer coverage for those with pre existing conditions. However, according to research conducted by Avalere Health, as little as 5 percent of individuals with pre-existing conditions who currently have insurance would benefit from the AHCA. States would also have the ability to determine what they choose to qualify as minimum health care benefits, therefore potentially eliminating emergency services and more from coverage.
Medicaid coverage would be cut by $880 billion over 10 years by putting per capita spending caps on its users, according to The New York Times. On top of this, the AHCA would cut the taxes of high-income individuals by $300 million over the next 10 years.
The guarantee against loss of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions was a major step taken for the safety and well-being of Americans under the ACA. However, this sense of security has now been stripped from individuals and families across the country, if the AHCA were to take effect.
Times of illness are some of the most trying, both physically and emotionally. The worry of how you’re going to pay your next bill for lifesaving treatment should not be on your mind while fighting a serious disease.
Many people have personally benefitted from the protections the ACA has offered, including my family. A year ago, my dad was diagnosed with stage four stomach and esophageal cancer and was given a year to live. He immediately switched health care providers and moved from San Francisco to Seattle in search of specialist care. My family was not charged more for his insurance, which allowed him to get on the list for trial treatments that are breaking down barriers in the cancer world.
Unfortunately, my dad was not one of the lucky ones and he passed away last December. But he was able to remain healthy for as long as he could thanks to the doctors and nurses who tirelessly helped him, and our family didn’t have to worry about his health coverage changing because of his illness. Had he not been covered, he would not have lived for more than a month past his diagnosis.
I am not alone in my story. There are millions of Americans with similar histories and futures. We cannot let the bottom line of insurance companies, or the wallets of the wealthy, get in the way of our nation’s health and wellbeing. Because even if you don’t agree with the high premiums you’re paying now under the ACA, they’re nothing compared to what you could be paying if you become sick under the AHCA.
It is deeply immoral to punish people financially during such a vulnerable period for something they did not choose to happen to them. Every American deserves the right to affordable and reliable health care and should be treated as more than a risky case number by their insurance providers.
With the AHCA greenlighting a departure from some of the steps toward health care equity that have been made since 2010, we could be facing a country with citizens who are more unhealthy both physically and financially.
Samantha is a sophomore majoring in journalism and communications. What are your thoughts on the AHCA? Will it have an effect on you or anyone you know? Please send questions and comments to email@example.com