With the recent passage of Trumpcare, otherwise known as the American Health Care Act, through the House, the health care of 24 million Americans is now at risk. With the ultimate goal of giving a $600 billion tax cut to the wealthy, House Republicans fast tracked this dangerous bill through Congress with some members not having even read the bill itself.
Rep. Chris Collins of New York for example, admitted to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he could not be bothered to read the bill but assured his staff did.
“I will fully admit, Wolf, I did not, but I can also assure you my staff did. We have to rely on our staff.”
Rep. Thomas Garrett of Virginia was also apparently too busy to read the text of a bill that could potentially leave millions without healthcare if passed.
“Oh, gosh. Let’s put it this way: People in my office have read all the parts of the bill, I don’t think any individual has read the whole bill, but that’s why we have staff.”
Seriously? They voted on a bill that would hurt 24 million Americans, but that they never actually read?
This bill offers tax breaks benefiting households earning $250,000 a year or more and those holding million dollar investments. If you are a working class American, there is not much in there to help you.
In fact, not only does this plan help the richest in our society, it systematically targets the poorest and most vulnerable people by slashing Medicaid by about $880 billion dollars over 10 years. The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that of the 24 million people bound to lose coverage, 14 million of those are covered under Medicaid.
The AHCA will now be sent for a vote in the Senate, where it will either be approved or most likely amended and sent back to the House for approval. While the Affordable Care Act may or may not be repealed, this is the time for Democrats to make a stand on their values and make clear that healthcare is a human right.
The Republican Party has made it abundantly clear that their platform and philosophy favors profit over people and the healthcare debate is no different. This is after all, the party that once cheered the notion of letting the uninsured die during a presidential primary debate.
I know from experience what it is like to have a severely ill family member with no healthcare coverage. My father had a form of chronic, degenerative arthritis so severe that it incapacitated him and almost left him unable to walk. He was able to get the healthcare he needed thanks to our community, which raised money so he could pay for the medical care. Countless others in our society are not so lucky. Falling ill can have ruinous consequences for a lot of working class families living paycheck to paycheck and who do not have healthcare.
Yet, our family members have the right to receive the treatments they need if they get cancer. Mothers have the right to receive care when they give birth. Children have the right to life-saving medicines if they need it.
The majority of people in the United States believe healthcare is a human right. Currently, 60% of Americans believe that the government should ensure healthcare for all through a federally funded plan.
The Republican Party spent the last seven years vowing to repeal the ACA without proposing any viable alternatives to take its place. When given the opportunity to do so, they presented a bill that takes us backwards as a country in terms of ensuring the well being of our citizens, a bill that leaves more people uninsured while implementing regressive tax policies that favor the rich at the expense of the poor.
Politicians have to put people above profits and take a principled stand that healthcare is a human right that assures all of our families thrive.
Thomas Kennedy is a writing fellow for the Center for Community Change.
This article first appeared on Huffington Post.