Every time that a new health care reform bill is introduced, it causes panic. Newly-minted health care expert Jimmy Kimmel, who has previously mocked Obamacare’s failures, quickly rushes in to denounce any attempt to move away from Obamacare. I feel for Kimmel’s concerns for sure, which is why I support Graham-Cassidy. When it comes to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, the hyperbole usually varies from, “This will destroy people’s lives,” on one side, to “This doesn’t go nearly far enough,” on the other side of the issue. Meanwhile many Americans just ignore the pundits and scare tactics coming from Washington as they are relatively healthy with few health concerns. For me, that is not the case.
I am the mother of four children who are my world, inspiring me to fight for their future every day of my life. However, what really separates me from many other people is that two of my children, Gunner and Gracie, have Cystic Fibrosis (CF). CF is a deadly disease, which currently has a median age expectancy of 37 years, and requires daily, time-consuming and expensive medical care. It only affects about 30,000 Americans, and, currently, there is no cure. So for a middle-income family such as mine, any change in healthcare could result in reduced coverage, thousands in medical bills, and delays in the treatments and medicines that Gunner and Gracie need.
Last week, following the introduction of the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson healthcare reform bill, several rare disease associations sent out several alerts opposing the bill and supporting Obamacare. As someone who faces this cystic fibrosis daily, I needed to know why these groups were supporting Obamacare, which is imploding, unsustainable, and already leading our nation towards a single-payer healthcare system.
What is clear is that single-payer systems are not the solution, especially when every day matters and yearlong delays in single-payer systems are common as government entitles and pharmaceutical companies haggle over the price of life-extending drugs.
Just ask those who suffer from cystic fibrosis in the UK, who have been waiting since 2015 for their government to approve Orkambi, which researchers believe could add a decade onto CF life expectancies. My son, Gunner, has been on the drug for more than a year already. We’ve already seen significant improvements, delaying the vicious plans cystic fibrosis has for wrecking his body.
Advocates of the ACA like to say that those who push for this reform bill don’t understand what it is like to face the hard decisions that having a pre-existing condition requires each day. It’s not true for me, nor of one of this plan’s chief authors, Senator Rick Santorum.
Like me, Senator Santorum has a daughter, Bella, who has a rare, genetic disorder that leads to high medical and prescription bills. So why would he write a bill that would hurt his family and those with pre-existing conditions, a bill that (if the other side’s hype is to be believed) would lead to the denial of coverage for those with pre-existing conditions?
The simple answer is that he wouldn’t, and he didn’t. The Graham-Cassidy bill does not eliminate Title 1 of the Affordable Care Act. In fact, it can’t. What it does is allow a state to apply for a waiver that would exempt it from Title 1. In order for this waiver to be granted, the state though must certify that affordable, stable insurance options are available to those with pre-existing conditions. Simply put, states are required to cover those with a pre-existing condition, but we give them the flexibility outside of a mandate, to do this task.
And the best part of giving states control of how healthcare is managed is that real changes can be created. If my home state of Minnesota passes plans that fail to cover my children and their needs, you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be personally knocking on the doors of my state legislators. I’ll be lobbying in St. Paul. I’ll be contacting the local press. I won’t simply be a number calling into the D.C. office of my U.S. Senators who will never hear my concerns. I’ll take it right to the decision makers.
Some argue that this bill would destroy Medicaid, which would lead to millions of people losing their heath care. In fact, this bill would put Medicaid on a sustainable path that would continue to rise with inflation. In introducing his extremist “Medicaid for All” plan, Senator Bernie Sanders said that the best way to lower health care costs was to make people go through the government. If he were right, then it should not take an extraordinary hike in Medicaid spending each year to cover his plan. Raising Medicaid spending based on inflation should be more than enough to cover the people it needs to cover. So why are liberals against this plan but for “Medicaid for All?”
Two words are the answer to that question: Trump and abortion. If Graham-Cassidy passes, President Trump will cement his legacy as President. If he can’t, then realistically Americans are stuck with the ACA forever or at least until we’re broke and no more money can be printed to pay for it all. And Sanders’ plan would give government money directly to the abortion industry while the Graham-Cassidy bill would defund Planned Parenthood and protect the rights of the pre-born.
Is this bill perfect? No, but when comparing this bill to the travesty that is the Obamacare status quo and the disastrous financial trajectory it has put our nation on, there really is no choice. And by allowing states a hand in addressing where healthcare spending is invested, the choice to invest in life-affirming providers rather than the nation’s number one abortion provider is long overdue.
Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) is president of Students for Life of America.