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The fight to protect the Affordable Care Act isn’t over

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When I worked for the Department of Health and Human Services under President Barack Obama, I was tasked with educating Americans on their options under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The most motivating part of my job was explaining the law to those who could now finally afford insurance, some of them for the first time in their lives.

I heard gut-wrenching stories of people who struggled with pre-existing conditions. From Florida to California, from New York to New Mexico, I heard from thousands of Americans who were elated that they could now confront health conditions that went unaddressed for years out of fear of financial ruin—from young Americans who could now stay on their parents’ health insurance to retirees worried about lifetime caps on coverage. These Americans needed care and they were glad they could get it.

{mosads}Congressional Republicans have demonstrated their continued failure of leadership by proposing disastrous plans to strip coverage from millions of the most vulnerable people in need of care. They have hidden, switched, and manipulated their plans as a way of gaining Senate votes and duping the American public.

Thanks to the leadership of Democrats in the Senate and those who crossed party lines, like Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine), and John McCain (Ariz.), the latest plans to gut Medicaid and raise premiums have been put on hold. But make no mistake, while the immediate threat of a legislative repeal appears to have faded, President Trump has threatened to pursue his own plans to sabotage the ACA.

The public has persisted before, and we will have to do it again. Since January, at their offices and town halls across the country, thousands of constituents confronted their elected representatives. They demanded opposition to any efforts to undermine and sabotage the ACA and any plan that fundamentally ignores the principle that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable healthcare. Their passion and their pain broke through the noise, and it’s their lives, and their stories, that made it impossible for Republicans to ram through a legislation to rip healthcare away from millions of families.

That’s why I’m joining the nationwide Drive For Our Lives bus tour, a cross-country reminder that the fight to secure affordable, accessible, and high quality healthcare coverage is not over. Despite legislative fits and starts, many congressional Republicans remain committed to stripping millions of Americans of their healthcare coverage.

If any plan to repeal the ACA passes, many of the voters who elected the Republicans in Washington will face cuts to Medicaid, skyrocketing premiums, and less accessible care for their families—all despite campaign promises not to cut Medicaid or raise costs made by Trump and the GOP, like Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Cory Gardner of Colorado. This would be disastrous for families in those states and many others.

The GOP’s plan to repeal protections put in place by the ACA fundamentally undercuts the goal of expanding access to healthcare—a goal every elected official and representative should share. Instead, the GOP repeal efforts continue to be guided by politics, by a desire to deliver on reckless campaign sloganeering. In response, the American people showed stunning resilience. They took to the streets and the suites to make the stakes clear: their lives depend on a functional healthcare system.

We are going to continue fighting back and keeping the pressure up on members of Congress who support ripping away our healthcare. It’s time to let them know that we need the ACA to stay. It is time to get on the bus and Drive for our Lives!

Anton Gunn is the former Director of External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Barack Obama Cory Gardner John McCain Lisa Murkowski Rob Portman Shelley Moore Capito Susan Collins

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