Stand up and protect the basic human right to health care

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN | 7/10/2017, 10:03 a.m.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator ...

Children’s Defense Fund

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Every July 4, Americans come together to celebrate the promise of our Declaration of Independence. We know for millions of Americans, our nation has never fully lived up to that creed, but for all who still believe in the American ideal, this has never been a reason to give up. Instead, in every generation, a new group of women and men and youths and even children have come forward to do their part in pushing America closer to its full promise. The current administration and Congress show how far we still have to go.

In his inspiring speech at the 1963 March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. explained that was why we were all there: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, Black men as well as White men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’ … We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.”

On this July 4, we found ourselves once again fighting to protect basic (unalienable) human rights for tens of millions of vulnerable children and adults in our country and protesting the moral bankruptcy of Senate Republican leaders and our president.

In a country that says it values life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, how can any of our leaders of any political party or ideology propose actions to slash health care for tens of millions of the neediest in order to give tax cuts to the wealthy, favoring millionaires over mothers, billionaires over babies, and powerful corporations – already garnering huge sums in government subsidies – over children? That is what the Senate version of the already obscenely unjust House-passed American Health Care Act would do.

Crafted in secret by 13 White men without a single hearing, the Senate health bill that purports to repeal the Affordable Care Act actually caps and cuts Medicaid – an indispensable lifeline that has served America’s most vulnerable children, mothers giving birth, people with disabilities and vulnerable elderly well for more than 50 years. But in a representative democracy like ours, the people elect members of Congress to represent us and be our voice. As members of the Senate headed home to their districts for their July 4 recess, it was up to us to fulfill our democratic duty and make sure our voices are heard and make sure our Senators fulfill their democratic duty to protect all their constituencies and not just those who make campaign contributions to them or their political party.

Here are five of the many ways the Senate’s misleadingly and wrongly named Better Care Reconciliation Act – more appropriately named the “Worse Care Reconciliation Act” – harms children, offers worse care and makes us question the moral judgment of our Senate leaders: