I have a friend, diabetic like me, who could not afford insurance and whose health spiraled worse and worse. He died alone in his apartment one night, too sick to get himself to the emergency room. I have another couple of friends who lost their child because their lifetime cap on their insurance policy was hit and they couldn’t get the medicine they needed to keep their daughter alive. I have relatives who went years without coverage, desperately gambling everything because they couldn’t afford it with the health issues they had. As a small businessman, my health insurance costs had nearly driven me out of business because I am a diabetic and other employees had pre-existing conditions.
When the Affordable Care Act was passed, these issues finally began to be resolved. There are still problems with the American health care system, but things are so much better in so many ways— not just for the 20 million people newly covered by health care insurance, but for many millions more who no longer have to deal with problems related to pre-existing conditions, lifetime caps, or other myriad problems the old system gave people.
And because of all you good people who stood up and were counted protesting the Republicans’ plans to repeal the ACA, we won this fight. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. In the drama of the final vote very late last night, wherein McCain joined Murkowski and Collins to say no to McConnell’s one final terrible idea, it should not be forgotten that it was all those actions by regular people fighting their hearts out for this cause that won this fight. The people demonstrating, the town hall meetings, the letters, the petitions, the phone calls, the social media postings. Everything all of you did made the difference. You not only terrified the Republicans, but you bolstered and fired up the Democrats to fight back— and fight back they did, to their enormous credit.
People have forgotten how quickly and easily the Republicans were moving to pass repeal last January. Those of us in DC worried they would get it through the House in a couple of weeks and the Senate in the first month. But citizens standing up and being counted from the very beginning slowed this bill down and now have killed it.
You are heroes.
In the weeks and months to come, we will have so many more battles to come. Trump, McConnell, and Ryan have so many more terrible things they are going to try and do. They are deporting and harassing immigrant communities. They still want enormous budget cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the EPA, food stamps, education, and many other things that help people. They are going to try and pass a massive tax cut for the top 1% and big corporations. They want to deregulate the financial industry so that Wall Street can go back to the speculation, fraud, and manipulation that brought about the 2008 financial crisis. They want to suppress the votes of millions of people.
We have so many battles yet to fight. You activists have shown you can pull off miracles and we are going to need some more of them in the years to come. But last night gives me faith we can do it— again and again and again.