Despite the raging COVID-19 pandemic, despite the continuing rise of health care costs, despite the tens of millions of Americans without health care insurance, despite years of failed attempts to end the Affordable Care Act, the current administration in the White House has recently announced it was making yet another attempt to destroy it by asking the US Supreme Court to nullify the Act. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move “unfathomably cruel.” The only adequate analogy appears to be cancelling your home fire insurance policy just as the flames are curling out through the windows and licking the exterior walls.
How to protect their health is a major concern for most Americans, some 22,000,000 of whom rely on the ACA for their insurance. While many workers receive health care insurance as a benefit through their employment, millions of workers are not so fortunate. Indeed, many lower income workers are among the 40,000,000 or so Americans who were chronically uninsured until the ACA was enacted. In addition to lower wages, lower skilled service jobs typically don’t include health insurance as an employee benefit, effectively further reducing the amount of disposable income for such workers if they can even qualify for health insurance that they pay for themselves.
Accessible health care benefits all Americans, business owners as well as workers. The lack of health care cost coverage for Americans had sapped billions of dollars from our economy over the years before the ACA. The fact that every other major developed nation has a government sponsored health insurance program itself suggests the importance of broadly accessible health care to the productivity of workers and their employers. Additionally, when the emergency room is the provider of last resort for the uninsured, employers and insureds wind up paying for this cost through taxes and subsidies as well as higher premiums on their own policies.
During the congressional debate which accompanied the 70 prior (failed) attempts to vote the ACA out of existence, the Republicans sponsoring those votes constantly promised a better alternative. But between those first failed attempts starting eight years ago and today, no plan: not a poor plan, not a compromise plan, not a market driven plan, but no plan at all, has been offered.
The justifications offered by those supporting repeal have been so lacking in substance as to give rise to suspicions about the true motivation behind their seeming obsession. The ACA’s success belies such notions as lack of choice or rationing of care, which had been advanced to justify repeal. Added to this, a recent Buzzfeed poll found that 60 percent of Americans favor retention of the ACA. The absence of clearly defined and grounds on their merit for repeal gives rise to the appalling possibility that rejection the reforms achieved by President Obama is the true impetus.
The ACA is not the ideal solution to the health care insurance problem in this country. Costs are not as “affordable,” as had been promised, and coverage problems have been known to arise. But it has been the method of providing health insurance for the millions of American workers who were without health insurance before the act was passed. At present it covers some 22,000,000 Americans. And perhaps critically, an additional 500,000 Americans have chosen to sign onto the ACA since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in early March.
We can hope that this latest attempt by the administration to torpedo the ACA represents the dying gasp of a misguided, politically motivated, failed campaign. But under Trump, with appointment of right-leaning judges and Supreme Court justices, the outcome is hard to predict. Stand Up for Workers PAC believes the surest path to accessible health care for workers is through electing a U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, that will respond responsibly, carefully, yet swiftly, with an unbiased, rational approach to this urgent need. This PAC has made a commitment to supporting candidates who have made support for health care for all one of their top priorities if elected, and has made this issue a prime criterion for choosing the candidates it supports. The candidates supported by the PAC have each not merely voiced their favorable view towards supporting workers on this issue, but have pledged to affirmatively endorse and to vote for adequate health care insurance for those who need it, including continuation and improvement of the ACA if that is the most expeditious approach. We are determined to do all we can to assure that the Congress, both the Senate and the House, will take action swiftly to protect and enhance health care for workers. Please join us in supporting these candidates and all who will take concrete action to address this issue in the way most beneficial for workers and their families.