The Defeat of the American Health Care Act and Your Political Engagement

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Mai-Khanh Tran, MD, is a pediatrician, a daughter, wife and mother, an educator, a business-owner, a member of PIVOT, Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, a member of VADC, Vietnamese American Democratic Club of Orange County, CA. She supports Obamacare (ACA) and said she is glad it is still the law of the land and that the defeat of the GOP proposal, known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is pulled off the table in Congress. I talked with her in the aftermath of the AHCA defeat.

What do you make of the defeat of of AHCA?

It is a victory for the American people. 54% of Americans surveyed prefer to keep the Affordable Care Act. Saved are the potential 14 millions in the next year who would become uninsured once again, 24 millions in the next decade. Saved are the 2 million Asians and the 200,000 Vietnamese who would lose their health care coverage nationwide. Saved are the 400,000 Southern Californians, of whom 80,000 are Vietnamese, who would see their health insurance disappear. Saved are the 45,000 people who would die nationally due to lack of insurance. These are the numbers we must remember.


Saved are the children who would lose their vaccinations. Saved are the women who would lose their pre-natal and preventative care. Saved are the disabled and the mentally ill who would lose care for their special needs. Saved are the elders who would see their health care costs tripled, if not quadrupled. Saved are the working poor who would no longer afford to buy health insurance for their families. Saved are the majority of people who would see their premiums rise by at least 15%. These are the faces we must remember.

What helped defeat AHCA in your opinion?

Once the numbers are known and the faces visualized, the American people spoke. They said this is unconscionable and unacceptable. We are better than this. We cannot give the rich a big tax cut on the back of the children, the elders, and the poor in this country. And when the American people spoke—by calling their Congressmen, knocking on their doors, speaking up at town-halls, writing their pieces—the elected officials apparently listened. The democratic tradition is saved and revived just in the nick of time.

What do those who championed Obamacare need to do now?

The defeat of the GOP proposal is a victory but the battle continues. No doubt, there will be attempts to sneak in legislations that would chip away at the right for affordable health care in this country. Instead of one law, like the AHCA, that is easy to attack, there will be attempts to hide defunding and cuts in forms of amendments on bills that, on the surface, appear to be unrelated and innocuous. This guerrilla war-fare tactic is much harder to defend. It requires that we be informed and stay engaged. It requires that we be vigilant and speak up. It requires that we live like “active citizens” rather than “passive citizens,” in the words of Stephanie Murphy, the first Vietnamese Congresswoman in the US House of Representative.

What else?

It also requires that we vote and participate in the political process. Take Kathy Tran, for instance. She’s a mother of four, the youngest being only 7 weeks, is stepping up to the plate to run for the Virginia House of Delegates, 42nd district, a district that has about 5% Vietnamese population and covers Fairfax County. She is running to make sure that the voices of working people are heard, that jobs, health care, education, and civil rights are of utmost concerns to working families. We need to speak up and support Kathy for her courage and commitment by voting in the primary on June 13 and general election on November 7, 2017. Let’s make the democratic process healthy again.

Andrew Lam is an editor at New America Media in San Francisco and the author of “Birds of Paradise Lost,” a collection of stories about Vietnamese refugees in San Francisco, “East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres,” a book of essays on East-West relations, and a memoir, “Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora.”

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