Yesterday I sat with tears in my eyes as I watched the House of Representatives pass the American Health Care Act, legislation that repeals parts of the Affordable Care Act. I sat dumbfounded as votes tallied to remove the individual mandate, to stop Medicaid expansion and to limit access to care for those with pre-existing conditions.
I was disheartened that the House rushed through legislation that contains glaring issues rather than taking the time to work with members of the safety net and develop a plan that could actually help the American people rather than hurt them. The mission of the NAFC is to ensure that the medically underserved have access to affordable quality health care and this bill does nothing to address that. While disappointed, I am also more steadfast in my belief that health care is a right, not a privilege and that we need to continue fighting for this belief.
On behalf of our 1.8 million patients that are seen at America’s 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics with the help of 190,000 volunteers – including 94,000 medical volunteers - the NAFC would be remiss if we did not raise our concerns about this legislation as it goes for review and debate in the Senate.
It is our expectation and hope that the Senate will find ways to provide access to health care for the 29 million people who have still not received it since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. We urge the Senate to protect vulnerable individuals who have pre-existing conditions and to protect the Medicaid expansion programs so that an estimated 24 million additional people do not lose their coverage.
I know one thing for sure - we have to start putting put people over politics. We have to make sure that the medically underserved in our country know that they are important to us and that we will stand by them.
We implore people to get involved today. We encourage you to contact your Senator and urge them to put people over politics, asking them to bring Free and Charitable Clinics to the table so we can ensure that our current patients and potential patients have access to care. You can also donate to the NAFC. A $20 donation can help the NAFC provide a diabetic patient with 2 months of diabetic supplies. Now under the House plan, diabetics have a pre-existing condition and they could either lose their health insurance or the cost of coverage could dramatically increase.
We no longer have the ability to take our health care and the health of our country for granted. It is important to recognize that at any time, the loss of health care coverage, the high cost of medications and the lack of access to a provider could affect any one of us or any one of those we love. We need to be the voice of those who have no voice in the process. We need to make sure the 29 million people who are currently uninsured and the potential 24 million addition people who could lose their coverage are not forgotten. We need to make sure the 1,200 Free and Charitable Clinics across the country who serve the medically underserved have the means to take care of all who seek help and are afraid for their future. The NAFC stands ready to work with lawmakers to address the needs of the medically underserved throughout the country and to ensure that health care becomes more affordable and accessible for all Americans. We can do better; we must do better – people’s lives are counting on it.