On Tuesday morning, Health Access joined nearly 100 Kern and Tulare County health advocates and providers convened in front of Congressman McCarthy’s Bakersfield district office to urge him to not repeal the ACA, especially without a replacement. Around half of the residents in the counties he represents (Kern and Tulare) on Medi-Cal and stand to see their health coverage cut or eliminated. His constituents personalized a card to send to the congressman with their wishes for a happy and healthy new year (with affordable, quality health care at the top of the list). As Pastor Sean Battle from The People’s Missionary Baptist Church said, “This is not about politics or Obamacare, it’s about doing the right thing and protecting people’s health.”
“Kevin McCarthy, my representative, has the ability to provide the greatest gift for his constituents this Christmas. Kevin McCarthy, you can do this! You can provide the greatest gift, keeping health care for your people, don’t abandon us and be the Grinch, follow your faith,” said Reverend Nancy Bacon, from the Tehachapi Community Congregational Church UCC.
The speakers, ranging from faith leaders, to community advocates, to Medi-Cal and CoveredCA beneficiaries, called on the Congressman not repeal the ACA, particularly if there is not something to replace it. They stood next to a large sign with a huge question mark asking: what is McCarthy’s health care prescription after ACA repeal? Julie Otero, a Medi-Cal recipient and a UDW Home Care Provider, shared her testimony of what Medi-Cal has done for her as a person battling two incurable diseases- Pulmonary Hypertension and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease:
“I am excited to be here today, because we are taking a stand! … Medi-Cal saved my life. I am one of the millions of low-income adults in California who became eligible for health care coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. I am here today because my life is in danger…Without doctor’s medication to manage my condition I don’t know where I would be…Like many of you, I am terrified of what would happen if [the ACA is] repealed. I cannot afford my medication, I cannot afford my doctors on my own, and I definitely cannot afford my health insurance. I take more than 17 pills a day, 3 inhalers, and 24 hours’ oxygen to save my life. I work and contribute to this community just like all of you. I deserve the right to afford my health care. To Mr. McCarthy and the rest of our elected leaders: Don’t take our health care, my life, and so many others depend on it.”
Prior to the press conference, we made an attempt to enter Congressman McCarthy’s office to invite him and his staff to join us and listen to what his constituents had to say, only to be locked out. Nevertheless, people shared their stories of why the Affordable Care Act matters to them, highlighting examples of the devastating effects that not having access to health care has on a person, their families, and communities at large. It was clear that every person was there to #Fight4OurHealth!
We appreciate all the partners that led to pull together this action that highlighted the needs of McCarthy’s constituents: SEIU Local 521, UDW Home Care Union, California Partnership, Faith in the Valley – Kern, the Community Health Initiative of Kern County, the California Alliance for Retired Americans, Planned Parenthood of CA, Sierra Club, Young Invincibles, and others. Together we will continue to #Fight4OurHealth!