By Sam Park, Georgia House of Representative (HD-101)
As a Georgia State Representative, I have worked to ensure that every Georgian has access to quality healthcare. My home state ranks among the worst states in the nation for health care access and health outcomes. This was made worse for Georgia by Republicans who refused to expand Medicaid under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or “Obamacare” – thereby denying coverage for half a million Georgians and exacerbating the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Georgia.
Access to healthcare is a matter of life or death. It upholds a person’s dignity, and gives the person a fighting chance. I know this, because it did just that for my mom.
My mom immigrated to America in the early 80’s. As a single mom, she raised my two older sisters and me. She was strong, indomitable, and full of grace. In 2014, she was diagnosed with late stage terminal cancer.
This news struck our family like a thunderbolt.
Twice a month, I took my mom to chemotherapy. It cost $15,000 per treatment. Fortunately, at 66 years old, Medicare covered most of her treatment, while Medicaid – the state insurance program for low-income families – covered the rest.
The doctors initially gave my mom six months to live. Because she had public health insurance, my mom received top-notch medical treatment and care and lived another 3.5 years – all without financial stress.
Healthcare coverage does not just provide relief from medical bills; it gives Americans a fighting chance.
Shamefully, President Trump seeks to eliminate this chance by asking the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA. Stripping health care coverage from millions of younger adults, older adults, and low-income Americans is unconscionable–especially in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic that has killed over 22x,000 people and infected over 8 million people to date.
Ending health care coverage for millions of Americans in the midst of this public health and economic crises is immoral. As a Christian, it goes against every fiber of my values and the teachings of my faith – that we must do unto others as we do unto ourselves.
Dismantling the ACA would be especially devastating for the LGBTQ+ community..
First, thousands of LGBTQ+ Americans could lose the health care coverage they gained in the last 10 years under the ACA. This includes thousands of low-income LGBTQ+ Americans who gained coverage through their states’ Medicaid expansion under the ACA. It also includes thousands of Americans living with HIV, which was considered a preexisting condition.
Second, many LGBTQ+ American seniors live in poverty, many without family to take care of them. Instead of leaving them without coverage and medical treatment options, the ACA prioritizes their health and dignity.
Third, the ACA mandates private and public health insurance plans to provide life-saving preventive services and screenings at zero or low cost. These include certain cancer and diabetes screenings, and wellness visits.
Vice President Biden understands that healthcare is a human right. After all, the Obama-Biden Administration forged the ACA, bringing millions of Americans into the health care system. I have no doubt that as President, Biden would fight for American families and every member of the LGBTQ+ community. No one should worry if they are one diagnosis away from bankruptcy.
The choice could not be more clear. I urge all Georgians, and all Americans across our nation to vote for the health and dignity of our families, our children, our parents, and our community by voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.