Unless you have been spending your days with Matt Damon on Mars, you are aware that Congressional Republicans don’t think too highly of the Affordable Care Act, AKA “Obamacare.” They have voted 59 times to repeal it and, just in case you weren’t sure where they stood, this month was number 60. What was different this time is that it made it to the President’s desk, where in a move surprising no one, it was vetoed. Republican leaders stated that the point here was to show the public what could happen if they win the White House in November.
In the absence of alternative legislation though, what could happen is scary for people with colon cancer or any other serious medical condition. Perhaps the most significant change is in the absence of the Affordable Care Act or replacement legislation, health insurance companies can go back to the day they deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition. If you have colon cancer, don’t plan on changing jobs and hope you don’t get laid off because once COBRA lapses, you’ll have a hard time getting health insurance. Oh, and if you have a child with a medical condition, they won’t be able to stay on your policy until age 26 either—another allowance of the Affordable Care Act. Employers of 50 people or more will no longer be required to provide health insurance, no-cost screening colonoscopy will go away and, with the lapse of low-income subsidies and Medicaid expansion, an estimated 17 million Americans will lose coverage. This in a nation where having health insurance is one of the single biggest predictors of whether or not you will survive a cancer diagnosis.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said “Americans deserve a truly patient-centered health care system,” and we agree whole heartedly. When asked what Republicans would replace the Affordable Care Act with to achieve this goal, the Speaker indicated they would talk about it at a retreat in Baltimore. The Act has been in existence for more than five years, Republicans have repealed it 60 times and there still is not a proposal about what they will put in its place to give Americans something better.
The time has come for Congress to stop making political points by repealing the Affordable Care Act for the 61st time and start making legislation to show a vision for the future of healthcare in America. Whether you think the Affordable Care Act is the best thing since sliced bread or a detriment to our society, the fact remains you cannot simply get rid of it and go back to the days of denying health insurance to Americans solely because they have a chronic disease, or tell 17 million people they won’t have coverage anymore. The time has come for Congress to tell us what they are for, not just what they are against. This November we will elect a new President. If it is a Democrat, the Affordable Care Act will remain the law of the land; if it is a Republican it will certainly be on the chopping block. If it is to be repealed, Americans have a right to know what we will get instead. Speaker Ryan, the Republican leadership got rid of the Affordable Care Act 60 times, enough already, so now get your Act together and give us a vision for a “truly patient-centered health care system.”
As always, we want to know what you think—Speak Up, Speak Out!
Speak Up, Speak Out is an advocacy series where we bring you the information you need to know every third Tuesday of the month. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have questions or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030. We’re here to help!