If you’ve been following the news out of Washington, DC lately, you know that health care is under attack. Congress is rushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act and end funding for family planning services. However, these moves are only the first wave, with more to come later this spring that will affect Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and employer coverage.
It’s a wild ride so far and will only intensify. Everyone’s health care coverage is at risk, no matter what kind you have. Just looking at the ACA repeal (with NO replacement, so far) alone, 2.7 million New Yorkers will lose their coverage, including 1.6 million here in New York City.
It’s all-hands-on-deck, big time!
Fortunately, lots of groups of forces are starting to mobilize and fight back, and we here at Metro are at the center of many of these efforts and events. The national Health Care for America Now (HCAN) campaign that functioned during the 2009-10 health care reform fight is back, and will be focusing on all the current and upcoming fights. HCAN action coalitions are forming across New York State, and we are leading the effort here in NYC. Staten Island and southwest Brooklyn is a particular focus, among others.
How to keep on top of it all?
We urge you to keep checking our website calendar, action alert page, and blog. There’s new events and developments happening almost every day. Additionally, as you hear of activities or plan some yourself, please let us know of them so that we can list them to inform others.
You can also follow us on Facebook. We post things many things there (particularly timely news stories), and you can easily share out items from there to your own social media networks.
Why is the health care fight back is SO important?
Of course, health care is not the only issue that New Yorkers and those who care about social justice are worried about. Many really bad ideas are in the works coming out of the new Congress and incoming Trump administration, so we all have to have each others’ backs if we’re going to succeed. We cannot just stay in our own silos and have parochial perspectives. We will all lose if that happens.
That said, health care just happens to be the first thing out of the gate. If we can successfully beat back what Congress wants to do on that front, or at the very least throw sand in the gears of the legislative process, that will slow or stop EVERYTHING ELSE that’s lined up right behind it. By focusing NOW on the ACA and women’s health care fights, we pushback on what’s coming next on a whole variety of health care, social, and economic issues.
What to do? “Think global, act local.”
First and foremost, keep contacting your member of Congress about your views on whatever is happening, including our two Senators: Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Put them on your speed dial. Many of them are very supportive of health care, and are fighting hard against the coming onslaught. It is very important that we support them, and that any damage coming out of any setbacks is minimal. For those lawmakers who don’t support health care programs, we must hold them accountable for their positions and votes, and inform their constituents of what they are doing.
While all these fights right now are defensive ones, we all know that what we truly need is a universal health care program here in the U.S. and New York. By fighting to preserve and improve the health care gains that we have made over the last 50 years, we will gain the political momentum to push forward toward that broader, ultimate goal. If we lose on these current fights, we will be badly set back.
Thanks, as always, for all you do to fight for health care for all and health care justice. We look forward to partnering with your community organization, trade union, professional association, and faith congregation in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Onward!