OPINION: Our access to healthcare is under assault.

ABOVE: Derived (cropped) from Activedia on Pixabay (license)

A letter to the editor by Kathleen Pulver of Medford, NJ

Our access to healthcare is under assault from the Trump administration and Republicans like Tom MacArthur (NJ3).

After failing to pass the “Trumpcare” repeal of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year, there have been insidious, and successful, attempts to sabotage our access to healthcare.

Not surprisingly, women are significantly affected by this. We are generally the ones who make health care decisions for our children, and later in life, for our aging parents. Under the ACA, women had access to gynecological and general care through non-profits like Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has specifically been under attack by this administration. We should all know by now that NO federal monies ever go to providing abortion services. Apparently, that is not good enough for this patriarchal administration because they have now placed a “gag order” on health care providers by refusing funding for anyone who even mentions the word “abortion.” There are also new guidelines for Title X providers that indicate women will no longer have the right to medically proven types of birth control. Instead, there will be a push for “natural family planning,” a.k.a. the rhythm method just like in the “good old days” when women were controlled by men and their own biology.

Our children’s health care is also under attack with proposals to cut CHIP and Medicaid. Regular pregnancy care and preventive healthcare for newborns and babies is extremely important for a good start in life. It is bizarre that there is so much “pro-birth” sentiment in this administration yet no realization that once these babies are born, they need to be taken care of.

For people who think they will not be affected by cuts to programs like Medicaid, have they thought about the fact that 64% of nursing home residents are dependent on Medicaid for their care? Again, this is mostly a women’s issue because women live longer than men and middle-aged women are the ones who make most of the care decisions for elder family members. With an average cost in NJ of $316 per day, a year of care in a nursing home is $115,000 per year. Unless you, or your parents, have been very fortunate financially, Medicaid cuts will very likely affect you in the future regardless of your financial and health insurance status now.

The most recent sabotage to our health is the decision to allow states to challenge the ACA law that offers protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Luckily, legal experts think this will fail when challenged in court, but it is a red flag that shows just where Trump and his allies, like Tom MacArthur, stand.

We have an opioid addiction problem in this country. We also have a rise in suicides due to untreated mental illness. Before the ACA, mental illness and addiction were rarely covered by insurance. Even though we hear some Republicans talking about the opioid crisis, their words are empty as long as they do not want to include guaranteed medical insurance coverage for treatment of addiction and mental health.

We were told by Trump and MacArthur that they were going to come up with a fantastic healthcare plan that would “include everyone”, would be “better” and “cost much less.” That is obviously not going to happen. Because of the consistent sabotage of the ACA laws, insurance costs are rising and benefits are being cut.

This November is a pivotal moment in our history, especially for Americans concerned about healthcare. Unless we “flip the House and Senate,” there will be more attempts to cut health care benefits with reactionary and “moralistic” attacks on women’s health care while we pay more for insurance, medical services and prescriptions.

If we are not healthy, we cannot work efficiently, raise healthy children or achieve our personal “American Dream.”  Andy Kim, who is running to replace Tom MacArthur as New Jersey’s CD3 representative believes this. He has enumerated several priorities for Congress: lowering prescription costs, permanently fund the Children Health Insurance Plan (CHIP), get everyone covered for health care, protect those with pre-existing conditions, expand Veteran’s care, invest in medical professionals and support community health centers.

It won’t be easy, but we can use our votes for Andy Kim to stop the degradation of our health care and, hopefully, bring a better, more equal system to our nation.


Editor’s note: The opinions in this letter are the author’s only.

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