THE TRUMP PRESIDENCY AND THE THREAT TO HEALTH CARE
Medicare. Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act. With the election results yesterday, these three pillars of our health system are at risk, unless we mobilize and organize.
President-elect Trump and the GOP Congress’ plans to repeal Obamacare have never had the gruesome consequences fully spelled out, especially under California’s successful bipartisan implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Under the ACA, millions more Californians have Medi-Cal coverage; Over another million get financial help to afford private coverage through Covered California. Seniors get help affording prescription drugs, hundreds of thousands of young people are staying on their parents’ plans. No one is denied for pre-existing conditions, and have choices and financial options that didn’t exist before.
Any repeal plan will rip away such help and health coverage and care to millions of Americans, and lead to increased health costs for millions more. We will fight for and with these families. We will organize those impacted–not just those who will become uninsured, but those who will lose benefits, subsidies, and key consumer protections. Through every means available, from public outreach to direct action, we will demonstrate the dire impacts to the federal policymakers and every Representative about what repeal really means. Continued changes can be made to improve affordability and lower costs, such as oversight on prescription drug costs, but going back to the old, broken system is unworkable and untenable.
While California has a proud history of health reform, even moving ahead alone if necessary, it would be exceedingly difficult without the federal framework and funding of the Affordable Care Act. For example, Covered California can technically continue as a state-based marketplace, but would be a shadow of itself without the federal subsidies that over a million Californians to afford coverage. Under an ACA repeal, California could potentially continue some of Obamacare’s consumer protections at the state level, but would be undercut by Trump’s desire for federal pre-emption. California is not an island, and must engage fully in the coming national debate on the future of health reform–especially as an example of what has been achieved, and what we can’t give up. We must hold our elected officials accountable in 2018 and 2020 on the real impacts of their positions.
It’s not just the Affordable Care Act at stake. Speaker Paul Ryan has his wishlist and a President willing to sign on–privatizing Medicare through vouchers, block granting and capping Medicaid to force cuts; tax cuts that will undermine the financing of these health care programs. Health care is also deeply related to other issues, from immigration to the environment. We in California must lead the resistance, by advocacy and by example.
In contrast to the close national election, California voters sent a different message on health care on election day, especially through proposed initiatives:
PROP 55 & 56 AND MEDI-CAL INVESTMENT
With Proposition 55 & 56, Californians have again voted for taxes to fund vital services including health care. The message is clear that Californians believe that funding Medi-Cal, which covers 14 million low-income Californians, is a worthy investment. Health advocates will be actively engaged in the budget debate so that Medi-Cal and other resources provide more Californians with the care they need, when and where they need it.
PROP 61 AND DRUG COSTS
It’s shocking that the drug companies had to spend well over $120 million against a ballot measure with little institutional support and virtually no editorial board support and it still got so close. Every lawmaker should look at this result, and recognize the voter anger over unchecked prescription drug prices when considering their own votes on upcoming legislation. Health Access co-chaired the last ballot measure on prescription drug prices in 2005, when the drug industry spent $80 million to defeat Prop 79. This much stronger vote for Prop 61, over 45% even despite the barrage of drug company campaigning against it, provides momentum for state legislation to reign in prescription drug prices