This week, the U.S House of Representatives voted 217-213 to approve the American Health Care Act, which repeals portions of the Affordable Care Act. This reckless vote both denies or threatens the health care of those who need it the most and fundamentally shifts the burden of health care costs from a shared responsibility to those people, cities, counties and states who can afford it the least. Obscenely it penalizes the poor and the old while rewarding the young and the rich. If passed by the U.S. Senate in its current state the bill will:
* Result in the loss of health care for more than 24,000,000 Americans, including 1 million in Illinois.
* Deny protection to and increase costs for those with pre-existing conditions, including 5.5 million people in Illinois a category that includes both women with breast cancer and women who are simply pregnant.
* Deny or reduce coverage to the 3 million Illinois residents who depend on Medicaid for their healthcare.
* Deny hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women access to cancer screenings, contraception and other essential services through banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year.
* Promises to lower health care costs for the young and the wealthy while increasing the costs to the sick and the elderly.
* Without insurance, many will become sick or sicker than need be, some will die unnecessarily and prematurely. But even those who can afford or have insurance there will be discomfort, if not outright pain.
Just because funding goes away doesn't mean costs do; People will still be ill. The American Health Care Act will cut $800 billion from Medicaid over 10 years, which will result in a loss of at least $40 billion in federal funding for Medicaid in Illinois. Without insurance or adequate coverage they will return to the actions of the past. Those without coverage will put off care and then when it can no longer be put off go to local emergency rooms, county and city hospitals and clinics where care will be given.
Those costs will be borne by local residents through increased property taxes and rising costs for services at private hospitals. Illinois is already a donor state to the Federal Government receiving back only 30 cents for every dollar that we send there. Yesterday's vote reduces the dollar flow to Illinois even more while at the same time compelling us to pay $52 million more for military hardware ( a little gem added by Paul Ryan to garner more republican votes ).
We at Chicago Women Take Action are proud of our local congressional delegation that stood up to Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, siding with virtually all modern nations who believe that health care is a need and a right for every person.
We will protest, but only to call out the actions of those who betray the people they serve. And then, joined by men and women across the nation, we will work to oust those who would put profits before people; rob the poor and middle class to feed the rich and their own careers; and who seem bent on turning our great nation long the symbol of opportunity into a symbol of opportunism, a place governed not by justice, but by raw might.