Want to solve surprise medical bills? Listen to patients
Washington Republicans are still attacking your health care
In 2017, I met a woman named Amber from Western Illinois who had a life-threatening blood condition. She was deeply concerned that Washington Republicans were attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people, like her, who have preexisting conditions. That's because if the Republicans got their way and gutted her coverage, each of Amber's regular blood infusions would cost her $3,000 out-of-pocket.
When the Washington Republicans' war on the health and the wallets of millions of Americans was moving through Congress two years ago, it was a scary time for many hardworking Americans like Amber. Fortunately, people across the country stood up at town halls, online, and eventually at the ballot box and said in a clear and unmistakable voice, "No." No to eliminating crucial protections for people with preexisting conditions; No to an age tax; No to higher health care premiums and prescription drug costs; and No to putting insurance profits ahead of everyday Americans.
You would think that after voters showed up in November and threw Washington Republicans out of office in droves that my colleagues across the aisle would have learned their lesson.
And today, they are continuing a multi-pronged strategy to continue their war on Americans' health care.
Earlier this month, President Trump and the Washington Republicans introduced their budget. It's a laundry list of devastating attacks that would make health care more expensive for millions of Americans. Their budget starts by repealing the entire Affordable Care Act with no plan for replacement. This would immediately allow health insurance companies to jack up premiums on millions of people living with preexisting conditions, pricing millions of Americans out of the market and into bankruptcy. Meanwhile, by forcing people without health care into emergency rooms, their plan would explode costs for our hospitals, raising premiums and out-of-pocket costs for virtually all Americans.
Their budget would also gut Medicare and Medicaid to the tune of $2.3 trillion, stripping coverage from seniors, veterans, children and low-income families, so they can continue giving windfall tax breaks to billionaires and the special interests funding their campaigns.
Washington Republicans also are waging this war on a second front: Back in June 2018, rather than protecting the health care of millions, the Trump administration announced it would not defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit challenging it. As long as this case continues making its way through the courts, the economic wellbeing of all Americans is at risk. This is why in one of the first acts of the new Democratic majority, we held a vote to intervene on behalf of the American people. But Washington Republicans refused to stand with us, voting almost unanimously to continue the war against Americans' health care.
Not only is this bad policy on the part of Washington Republicans, it is a reminder that Republicans in Washington still have not learned how to listen.
As chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the organization dedicated to fortifying and expanding our majority in the House of Representatives, I intend to make sure my Republican colleagues won't get away with their assault on the health and wellbeing of hardworking American families.
In 2018, by focusing relentlessly on making health care more affordable, Democrats flipped a net total of 40 seats from red to blue, but we're not done yet. As Washington Republicans double down on their efforts to raise health care costs, we are doubling down on our efforts to hold them accountable for their records.
I've seen how Democrats have earned voters' trust on health care. That isn't just because we've made bringing down health care costs and protecting people with preexisting conditions a priority. It's because we stopped and listened to what Americans' priorities were before we claimed we had all the answers, or asked for their votes.
It is my job to listen to people like Amber and to fight every day to make her life better. And while there are many different ways to achieve lower costs and better care for all Americans, Democrats are doing our due diligence and working together to find the best solution to achieve these important goals. We believe in using our two ears and our one mouth proportionately and, while we have a lot of work ahead, we are fully committed to delivering real results for the American people.
Rep. Cheri Bustos represents Illinois' 17th District which includes Peoria, Rockford and the Quad-Cities. She also serves as the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.