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Now that a lying, fascist blowhard reality TV star is about to be inaugurated as President of the United States, Congress is moving forward on their long-standing plan to eliminate “Obamacare,” also known as “the Affordable Care Act,” and previously known in Massachusetts as “Romneycare.” As in Mitt Romney. Republican Mitt Romney. Who helped launch the entire idea. Never mind, don’t pay attention to that — better to pretend that the ACA is a liberal conspiracy to destroy society by making sure people die from treatable diseases less often.
The ACA is imperfect, of course — I know that firsthand, as a freelancer who has moved from state to state and each time had to navigate a new, confusing system in order to secure insurance at what is still a frankly steep monthly cost. But without it, I would have no insurance because it would be a luxury I couldn’t afford, and so I wouldn’t have been able to see a doctor for my chronic back pain, bronchitis, or just routine physicals to stay healthy before I develop conditions that require insanely expensive treatment.
So it’s better than nothing, but it’s nowhere near as great as the single payer system I enjoyed when I lived in England — a system that still has its problems but by nearly every metric studied by science is less costly to society and more beneficial to individuals’ health than any other system.
A lot of people in the US seem to understand all this, as more people are insured than ever before and the majority of people who are covered via the ACA and Medicaid are happier than ever with their coverage. Despite that, though, about half of Americans still seem to dislike the ACA, possibly because they don’t even understand what it is, as evidenced by the surprising number of Republican voters who want the government out of healthcare but still report loving their Medicaid coverage. There’s also the fact that people have fallen for Republican talking points, since 85% of Tennessee Republicans oppose Obamacare but only 16% of them oppose “Insure Tennessee,” which is the same thing. And among the Americans who state they dislike the ACA are those who do so because they’d rather have single payer, as evidenced by surveys that show nearly 60% of Americans want a federal healthcare program to cover all Americans.
But the Republican-led Congress has never been about doing what the people want, which is why in addition to trying to dismantle the ACA with no backup plan to protect the estimated 52 million people who will be left uninsured, Paul Ryan has just announced that Congress will also once again attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. They tried this a few years ago when 70% of the US did not want Planned Parenthood defunded. Despite that, they nearly shut down the federal government over the issue. They failed, but they are nothing if not tenacious.
So now they want to take away healthcare not just from people who secured it via ACA but also from the people who are getting what free services they can from Planned Parenthood. Again, I have firsthand experience: in my early 20s, I was working a retail job with no insurance. The only healthcare I got was through Planned Parenthood, and they were awesome. They were also the only reason I never needed an abortion, which may seem ironic to people who want to shut them down because 3% of their services are abortion-related. But if you defund Planned Parenthood, then research shows that the number of women with unplanned pregnancies will increase, as will the number of women dying from illegal back alley abortions.
By the way, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds that go to Planned Parenthood fund abortion, at all, already, so this is purely about stopping poor women from accessing basic healthcare like cancer screenings, birth control, and gynecological exams.
The looming repeal of the ACA is terrifying enough, and will cause enough unnecessary death, but the added defunding of Planned Parenthood will throw the United States into third-world-nation status. Please, please, please: call your representatives today, especially if you live in a “red” state, and tell them that you want Americans to have continued access to evidence-based healthcare.
Also, check out the Women’s March, happening January 21. People of any gender can show up to protest what’s happening to women’s rights on the day we inaugurate the first president of the United States who has gleefully stated on the record that he loves grabbing women by the pussy. If you can get to Washington, DC, do it. Otherwise, check out womensmarch.com for information on where you might be able to join a march nearer to you.