There’s no doubt about it. Virginians want affordable healthcare. Residents of the Commonwealth made their voices heard during the 2017 General Assembly elections by voting for candidates who promised to bring Medicaid expansion to the state. Those candidates delivered on their campaign promise when Governor Northam signed the budget in June, giving access to affordable healthcare to 400,000 Virginians.
Now that we’ve got Medicaid expansion taken care of, it’s time to go back to a battle we’ve been fighting ever since Trump was elected– protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and funding for programs that provide reproductive healthcare and family planning services to thousands of low-income Virginians.
Watch Out for the Brat Attack on Your Health
Over the years, Republicans like Congressman Dave Brat have been doing their best to cut off access to healthcare to millions of Americans through an outright repeal of the ACA and other backdoor measures like revoking the ACA’s individual mandate.
Dave Brat has made no bones about his commitment to repealing the ACA. Last year, he voted for the failed American Health Care Act (AHCA), known as “Trumpcare”, a move that would have cut off healthcare to 562,500 Virginians, including 49,600 constituents in the 7th district.
When the AHCA came out, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the bill would:
- wreak havoc on insurance markets
- cut Medicaid funding by $834 billion over the next decade
- make individual coverage exceedingly expensive for older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions
- increase average premiums by 20 percent the following year.
Fortunately, Republicans failed miserably at repealing the ACA because the American people weren’t going to have it. Massive protests across the country and at the U.S. Capitol showed how much Americans wanted Republicans to keep their hands off the ACA. Since then, Republicans have been working to systematically sabotage the Affordable Care Act – most notably by repealing the ACA’s individual mandate with passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a boon for the richest one percent and wealthy corporations.
Trump and Brat are making you pay more for healthcare so they can give tax breaks to the rich.
The ACA’s individual mandate required every American to obtain some kind of health coverage or face a tax penalty. Repealing the individual mandate allows people to go without health insurance in 2019. So, healthier “low-risk” people will choose to not buy plans on the health insurance marketplace.
In May, the big health insurance providers in Virginia asked for increased rates for consumers in the state. They blamed these higher rates on the repeal of the individual mandate. Some insurance companies asked for huge hikes, like CareFirst, which requested 64% and 27% increases for different plans. Others, like Anthem, requested only a 6% increase. According to the Center for American Progress, the average rate increase will be 19% in Virginia.
Brat’s attack on people’s health doesn’t stop there
The Trump administration has introduced a gag rule that would undercut the nation’s Title X program, which provides affordable birth control and reproductive healthcare to millions of low-income Americans. Under the gag rule, healthcare providers would no longer be able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion.
In May, Dave Brat signed a letter with other conservative members of Congress, urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to ban Title X funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood. Such cuts would be devastating for Virginians seeking healthcare.
According to the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Title X funding provided nearly $4.5 million to support access to high-quality family planning and sexual healthcare at 139 sites across the Commonwealth. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and the Virginia Department of Health are the Title X recipients in the state. A brief glimpse at the services offered in just Charlottesville and Roanoke last year helped over 4,000 people with:
- 352 cervical cancer screenings
- 407 clinical breast exams
- 5,814 chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis tests
- 1,746 HIV tests
Your voice matters. Submit a comments to HHS before it’s too late!
Are you fed up with worrying about what Republicans will do next to cut off your access to healthcare? Take action now. One thing you can do is submit a comment to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and demand that funding for Title X remain intact and say no to the gag rule. Another action you can take is by joining us this Saturday, July 21 for a roundtable discussion about protecting our healthcare at the Bon Air Library. The resistance is stronger than ever friends, help protect your right to healthcare.