Why you should care about health care

Salah-Dean Satouri, Staff Writer

Health care is a heavily disputed topic on Capitol Hill, and with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) hitting the floor of the House, conversation has ramped up throughout the country. The AHCA represents what many Republicans envision, while the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, was the culmination of years of work by Democrats. For at least a hundred years, it has been a major goal of American liberals to implement a national health insurance program. By the 20th century, many countries, such as France, England and Canada, had implemented universal health care systems, but the United States always lagged behind. There have been attempts by progressives in both parties to bring America up to par with other developed nations. The list of presidents who failed attempting this feat is hardly considered short and includes the likes of both Roosevelts, Nixon, Truman, Carter and Clinton. Then, Obama succeeded, and for the first time in American history, progressives experienced significant movement in health care advances. Although the plan still left millions of Americans uninsured, Obama’s achievement helped establish the idea that health care is a right, not a privilege.

Conversely, the AHCA started with the premise that all Americans should have their choice of insurance plans and that health-care taxes are too high. The repeal of the ACA has been planned by fiscal conservatives ever since the plan was conceived. There are Republicans who believe that everyone is deserving of health care, but where much of the opposition comes in is that universal health care can be an expensive proposition. According to The Wall Street Journal, the AHCA would reduce the deficit caused by Obamacare by $337 billion over a decade. It is expected to save $1.2 trillion in that same decade, although this saving would eventually be eaten up by a $900 billion drop in tax revenue.

The AHCA holds on to many ACA programs and purports not to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions. However, the wording in the AHCA is misleading, as it doesn’t actually guarantee that all pre-existing conditions will be covered; it forces the states to decide whether or not to make covering pre-existing conditions a requirement. According to The Los Angeles Times, states will be able to allow insurers to charge sick people more, potentially making coverage unaffordable for some, as well as allow insurers to charge older consumers five times more than younger consumers, making the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions at a high risk of living uninsured. The Los Angeles Times estimates that one-sixth of the population lives in states in which pre-existing conditions would not be covered.

Also at risk due to AHCA, Medicaid is a program that assists low-income individuals and families with paying for medical expenses. The AHCA would reduce Medicaid spending considerably while cutting taxes on the top five percent of income-earners. These changes would total around $150 billion saved over a decade. While these savings may seem beneficial for the federal budget on the surface, many supporters fail to recognize that those with access to health insurance coverage would be reduced by 14 million in 2018, 21 million in 2020 and 24 million in 2026, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Health care at its core is a moral issue and should be addressed as one,” junior Aidan Aronhime said. “Health care is a right for all Americans, not a privilege, no matter what your socioeconomic status is.”

Another program risking a loss of funding is Planned Parenthood, much to the dismay of American liberals. According to the its website, the organization is one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education, providing educational programs to 1.5 million young people and adults in 2016 alone. Planned Parenthood services helped to prevent approximately 579,000 unintended pregnancies in 2016 and administered 630,000 exams, which are critical services in detecting cancer. Additionally, the nonprofit provided more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including more than 650,000 HIV tests. The controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood stems from the fact that the organization provides abortion services; however, the extent of these services is widely misconstrued, according to The Washington Post, and abortion procedures account for only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services. Although defunding of the nonprofit by the federal government would not completely shut down the organization, it would severely affect the ability of Planned Parenthood to function at the same capacity.

“If they’re going to be cutting spending for something as vital as Planned Parenthood, there should be alternatives in place,” senior Ava Sharifi said. “These alternatives should not be up to the state [but rather the federal government] because we could be in a situation where women in some states have very little availability to trusted health care.”

As of right now, the AHCA has yet to pass the Senate, and the Senate is preparing its version, making the future of the act unknown. What we do know is that this act can endanger millions of Americans all in the name of saving money. We as a nation need to decide that health care is a right, not a privilege. No one should have to choose between paying the bills and staying alive; no one should be rejected from receiving coverage for a condition they have had since birth; no one should live without health care.