When the Affordable Care Act passed nearly a decade ago, the promise of health care coverage finally became a reality for more than 4 million Latinos in the United States, including for 600,000 Latino children. Ever since then, perhaps no issue has ranked higher among Latino families than health care. And it’s no surprise why: our quality of life improves when we have access to quality care.
But instead of building on the gains made by Hispanic families, Republicans want to take our health care system backwards. For years, President Trump and Congressional Republicans have been working to systematically chip away at the gains secured by the ACA, endangering the same coverage that’s provided crucial relief for millions of Latinos and millions more Americans with pre-existing conditions.
The latest assault is taking place in the courts: President Trump and Republicans have doubled down on their support of Texas v the U.S., a lawsuit that has challenged the constitutionality of everything including Medicaid coverage for millions, protections for those with pre-existing conditions and whether seniors should have lower prescription drug costs. If the administration has its way, tens of millions of people would see their coverage revoked and their costs soar to dizzying heights. It would also result in a loss of vital protections for 133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions, which can be defined as anything from cancers, to diabetes, to even asthma. If the administration wins its case, all 133 million of these Americans would lose their guaranteed right to access health insurance and could face exorbitant premiums just because they are sick.
The elimination of our current health care laws would gravely harm Americans from every walk of life. It would harm millions of growing families, many of whom rely on tax credits and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion in order to afford care for themselves and their children. It would harm millions of millennials, who are now looking for full-time work and who need health insurance to accommodate their ever-changing lives. It would harm older Americans who depend on low-cost prescription drugs. And it would harm working parents, who without health insurance could be forced to choose between a trip to the emergency room for their children and paying for groceries.
Of course, these assaults would especially harm the Hispanic community. Many Latinos have family members who disproportionately suffer from diabetes, liver disease, obesity, asthma, and cancer. In fact, anywhere between 8 and 20 million Hispanics have a pre-existing condition.
Democrats, meanwhile, are doing everything possible to combat these attacks. Democratic senators have introduced legislation that defends protections for pre-existing protections and protects consumers from junk insurance plans. And just this past month, Democrats in the House passed a bipartisan package that combats the Trump administrations’ health care sabotage. It shores up protections for people with pre-existing conditions, it reverses the Trump administration’s horrible expansion of junk insurance plans that don’t cover critical types of care like prescription drugs and mental health care, and it would help more Americans, and more Latinos, get the health care coverage they need.
Regrettably, none of these bills have received any attention from the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. In fact, Republican senators have so far blocked every Democratic senator’s request to bring the bills up for a vote. This is shameful, but not surprising: Leader McConnell has ignored more than 100 bills that have passed the House. He has essentially turned the Senate into a legislative graveyard, where even the most bipartisan and noncontroversial pieces of legislation are buried indefinitely.
There is no time to waste. Health care should be a right, not a privilege. Last November, the American people spoke loud and clear that the federal government should work to make health care more affordable. Health care was the number one issue in voters’ minds in exit polls across the country. So the lack of action in the Republican Senate is baffling.
We Senate Democrats are calling on Leader McConnell to put an end to his shameful legislative graveyard and bring much-needed health care legislation to the floor. Americans have made clear we ought to take action, and Democrats will work however we can to make sure that we follow through on our promises to protect health care for every single American.
The stakes are simply too high for families and communities to shoulder this burden on their own.