By RANDI WEINGARTEN
American Federation of Teachers
WASHINGTON – The fact that yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act has been brought by President Trump and Republican governors to the Supreme Court demonstrates their continued callous disregard to the health care needs of Americans. This is a ‘which side are you on?’ moment. The Republican Party wants to deny coverage for anyone with a pre-existing condition and then guarantee they will not be pauperized because of their or a family member’s cancer, asthma, diabetes or any of the pre-existing conditions that millions of American have. Because the White House was unsuccessful in its attempt to repeal the ACA in Congress, it will use any means to destroy our country’s prevailing health care law.
It is sad that the Republicans are not even honest about their strategy; they should at the very least have joined with Democrats in their motion to expedite having the case heard and decided before the 2020 election. Instead, the Republicans have lied about their intent in public, presumably because they, too, know the public is against them. But the decision by the Supreme Court to hear the case offers an opportunity to stop this assault on the ACA, working people and individuals with pre-existing conditions.
During this moment while we are dealing with the coronavirus and an international health crisis, we need to expand access to health care, not restrict it, as Trump and the GOP have tried to do more than 50 times with their lawsuits against the ACA. High-quality, affordable health care should be a human right guaranteed to all; people with underlying health conditions and those in underserved communities are especially at risk.
More than 70% of Americans support the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Rather than seek to eliminate coverage, President Trump and the Republicans could work with Senate Democrats to lower drug costs; the House has already passed H.R. 3, The Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.
If Trump is re-elected and Republicans have free rein on the government, they will strip these protections from millions of Americans. It is up to voters to turn the tide on the insidious policies of this administration so that countless Americans facing an affordability crisis are no longer forced to exist in perpetual instability.
Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers, whose 1.7 million members include nurses and health care professionals