Los Angeles – Hundreds of Los Angeles-area health care workers, nurses, advocates, patients, and seniors were joined Tuesday by Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senate Health Committee Chairman Ed Hernandez to launch a massive effort to protect Californians’ access to affordable health care. Their action came as the Trump Administration and Republican-led Congress are launching an all-out assault on health security for millions of Americans, with plans to gut the Medicare guarantee for seniors and decimate the Affordable Care Act and Medi-Cal. Health advocates promised to fight attacks on health care that that would force millions of Californians back into the ranks of the uninsured.
“The hundreds of people who took to the streets today demonstrate California’s commitment to keep and fight for the Affordable Care Act,” said State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez, who chairs the Senate Health Committee. “If Congress and the President-elect attempt to repeal this important law, millions of individuals would be left without proper coverage and it could destabilize a high-functioning health insurance market. As an optometrist, I see patients in my own practice for the first time thanks to the ACA. Health care is a right and I will protect what we have in California.”
Among the speakers at today’s event were Californians whose health care is under attack from Trump and the Republican Majority in Congress.
“Medicare has given generations of seniors peace of mind and prevented countless Americans from abject poverty in their elder years,” said senior Bonnie Coleman. “We cannot allow senior health care to come under the control of corporations that will raise prices, cut care, and unravel our health and financial security. It’s time to improve Medicare for seniors and expand Medicare for everyone.”
Over the last 8 years, California has done more to expand health care access than any state. At the rally, Dr. Mitch Katz, Director of the Los Angeles County Health Agency, detailed the progress California has made in expanding health access that is now at risk under a Trump Administration and GOP Congress:
- Repeal of the Medicaid expansion under “Obamacare” would eliminate coverage to over 3.5 million low-income Californians.
- Speaker Paul Ryan’s plans for Medicaid would jeopardize care for millions of poor Californians and unravel the safety net we all rely on in case of a job or income loss while giving subsidies and tax breaks to the wealthy, PhRMA and other profitable industries. Cuts of this magnitude would threaten the existence of safety net hospitals and health providers that serve all Californians.
- Repealing Obamacare would directly increase cost of health coverage for more than a million Californians who purchase health care through Covered California, spike the price of health premiums for all individuals and businesses in California market-wide, and roll back prescription drug support for seniors.
- Rolling back of some of the nation’s strongest consumer protections to ensure timely access to medically necessary care, language assistance, and the promise of coverage even with a preexisting condition.
- GOP proposals to “modernize Medicare” would break the promise of health care that generations of seniors have counted on, leaving tomorrow’s seniors at the mercy of health care corporations.
- Repealing the Affordable Care Act would eliminate the only viable pathway to coverage and literal life-saver for young adults who have been historically uninsured at much higher rates than older Americans. Thanks to the ACA, the uninsured rate among young people has been cut in half; changes to the pivotal law would reverse this important progress for young people’s health and financial security.
Read more from Health Access California’s fact sheet on the GOP proposals.
“The Affordable Care Act raised the minimum requirements for what constitutes a health care plan, allowing families such as mine who purchase insurance as individuals to obtain good quality coverage,” said Adnan Hussain, a father from Los Angeles who is able to buy health coverage through Covered California. “As a couple that has to purchase individual health care, my wife and I were able to afford to have a child thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which previously available plans for us had put out of reach.”
Advocates said today’s rally is only the beginning of a massive effort to fight for California’s health that will be lead by a broad coalition that includes health care advocates, providers, labor unions, immigrant rights groups, and others. Protecting Californians’ health includes fighting exclusion and discrimination, and upholding environmental protections that are crucial to health.