In mid-August, a woman named Elena Hung testified on Capitol Hill to share how Republican attacks on our health care are putting her four-year-old daughter’s life at risk.
“How can lawmakers talk about supporting our children,” said Elena looking up at the row of Senators. “But cast votes to take their health care away?”
Elena’s daughter Xiomara is four-years-old, lives with complex medical needs, and—as her mother argued before Congress—deserves the same access to care as anyone else.
There are over 130 million people in the United States who live with a pre-existing condition. These are our family members, our neighbors, and our community members. Yet, GOP lawmakers have made it clear that they will do anything in their power to limit working families’ access to quality, affordable health care.
In December, the Republicans in Congress passed a tax bill that gives tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations while raising the cost of health care for the rest of us. In just the last few months, they have rolled out junk insurance plans, raised health care costs even further, and advanced policies that strip our health care system to the bone.
And these tactics by Republican lawmakers aren’t new. Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law in 2010, Republicans in Congress have tried to repeal the legislation nearly seventy times. Since President Trump has taken office, every Republican in the House of Representatives and a majority of Republicans in the Senate have voted to sabotage our access to health care by voting to repeal the ACA and rollback other health care protections. Republican lawmakers have made it clear that they care more about a wealthy few at the expense of everyday Americans’ health and welfare. But people like Elena are standing up, fighting back, and encouraging others to do the same.
In just over a year, she helped found an organization dedicated to empowering the voices of families across the country who have children—like Xiomara—with complex medical needs.
She makes a point of reminding every person she meets that their story and their voice is powerful. It is with people like Elena empowering and raising up the voices of everyday people around us that will win the fight for affordable, quality health care.
Last summer, health care advocates, like Elena, stopped Republican lawmakers from passing their disastrous ACA repeal bill by raising their voices and amplifying each others stories. Across the country millions of people shared their story and millions more listened.
Every single time a lawmaker threatens the ACA, they send a message to everyday people from coast to coast that their health care is not a priority. With every move to weaken the ACA and other health care protections, elected officials are telling working families that they would rather pad the pockets of their wealthy friends than ensure access to care. They are telling people with pre-existing conditions—including four-year-old Xiomara—that their health care is not worth defending.
And that is exactly why people like Elena are standing up, raising up the voices of our neighbors, and fighting back with the message: health care is our right.