It’s hard to keep up with the flurry of activity on Capitol Hill, as Republican lawmakers scramble to put together a viable spending bill in order to keep the government open past Friday. We’ve read various leaked drafts, changing terms, and found one constant: Republicans are willing to hold our nation’s health hostage for partisan gain. It’s made for a bumpy road for the supposed Dealmaker-in-Chief. The latest blow came with reports that the White House withdrew its laughable offer to fund $1 in Obamacare subsidies for every $1 provided for the border wall. Unfortunately, even with the border wall off the table, Republicans will continue to build walls through their health care policy ― ones that disproportionately exclude our poor, sick, and vulnerable ― and expect the American people to foot the bill.
At St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, we provide affordable health care to low-income children, seniors, families, and the homeless, regardless of citizenship status or ability to pay. We believe in empowering our patients by giving them the health care they deserve, whether it’s providing a new mother with postnatal care or helping a patient in our pioneering transgender health program to survive and thrive through medical and community support.
Republicans will continue to build walls through their health care policy... and expect the American people to foot the bill.
Our patients in South Los Angeles, the largest contiguous area of poverty in California, represent a microcosm of the communities that will be most affected by Trumpcare’s proposed cuts to Medicaid. Eliminating $800 million in Medicaid funding would wall off our most vulnerable communities across America ― further starving the medical deserts hiding in our own inner cities, rural back roads, farmlands, and suburbs. Establishing a restrictive cap on benefits and enrollment functions much like Trump’s beloved border wall ― as a powerful symbol of exclusion.
We should be providing our communities with a ladder to health, but Trumpcare 2.0 is a recipe for quite the opposite. It stands to exacerbate inequality by allowing states to opt-out of policies that would otherwise bridge coverage gaps. As 24 million Americans stand at risk of losing their health coverage, our lawmakers should be working to expand access to health care― not restrict it. Allowing states to waive essential health benefits like pediatric and maternity care, eliminate provisions that ban insurance companies from spiking premiums for sick people, and otherwise enacting the MacArthur Amendment, would allow health insurance lobbyists and Republican governors to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchanges at the state level, piece by piece.
We should be providing our communities with a ladder to health, but Trumpcare 2.0 is a recipe for quite the opposite.
Having worked extensively to eliminate health disparities in South Los Angeles, where individuals are already restricted by income disparity, we see firsthand the necessity of equal access to coverage. Under the ACA, we’ve been able to support 11 health centers, five school-based clinics, and offer a mobile access express clinic. Because when we at St. John’s see walls, we knock them down.
St. John’s knows how important access to health care is, but we also know that it’s just one of many rungs on the ladder out of poverty. This is a team effort. That’s why we build coalitions with local unions, organizations, businesses, activists, and organizers to protect the overall health of our communities. In fact, it was during our March to Save the ACA where, alongside over 70 partner organizations and thousands of our patients, doctors, and allies, we heard the news that Trumpcare 1.0 had failed to garner support needed to pass. This weekend, we’ll join Future Fest to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the LA Riots and map the future of social justice for our community. On May Day, we’ll march to demonstrate support for all members of our community― Muslims, immigrants, workers, unions, women, the LBGT community, and anyone who speaks truth to power.
Where the Trump administration tries to build walls, St. John’s will continue to build ladders. And alongside our family, friends, neighbors, and community partners, we can knock those walls down entirely. We invite you to join us even if you don’t live in Los Angeles. Undoubtedly, there’s a fight going on in your own backyard to bridge the gap between health care and social justice ― and together we can ensure health care as a fundamental human right, forging a path for true health justice.