By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
After the GOP-led vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), Rev. Jesse Jackson, and a number of patients who credit the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for being alive today voiced strong opposition to the Republican vote with Davis declaring, “Hell no. We won’t go” for that “unfair” bill.
Davis joined Jackson at a press conference at Loretto Hospital, 645 S. Central Ave., that included Dr. Sonia Mehta, CEO/Chief Medical Officer, Rep. Camille Lilly (D-78th), several ACA patients including Igor Studenkov, a cancer survivor, Melanie McQueen, who says ACA saved her life, Monica Lewis-Fox, a kidney transplant patient, Leroy Gatson, an asthma patient, and James Muhammad, a spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). All said the impact of the Senate vote could mean life or death to thousands of patients.
The backlash of the Republican vote came swiftly, according to Rep. Davis. He called the bill a “Trumped-up Care idea…or Trumpcare. The ACA that we currently live under is the best thing that has happened to healthcare since the mid-1960s when we passed Medicare and Medicaid.
“There’s been nothing better than that and then came along ACA which put more than 20 million people in the position to receive health care insurance and health care, who had never had it before,” said Davis.
According to the congressman, in Illinois 36 percent of the children received coverage through Medicaid. He said there are 649,000 Illinoisans enrolled under the ACA and this bill (AHCA) was designed to repeal and replace it with “Trumpcare, nothing care,” he said.
If implemented, Rep. Davis warned, 24 million people would lose their health coverage nationwide. Overall, Davis said 44,296 Illinoisans covered under ACA and 252,612 covered under Medicaid expansion in Illinois would be in danger of having their health care either scaled back or curtailed.
Healthcare professionals and activists have worked for more than 50-years to get the healthcare system to this point but after the GOP vote, David said, “It’s like saying along comes Trump to replace all the work people have done with a bill that does nothing but provide some great tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent of the people in this country.”
Predicting a defeat of the bill in the Senate, Davis said Trump’s victory with the House vote won’t be replicated in the Senate and already some senators including Republicans, have not signed on to the GOP bill. In fact, he added, “people are standing up all across America saying we are not going to take it.
“In Illinois, if this bill passes, Cook County Hospital will have a hard time trying to provide health care for the medically indigent. “If this bill passes, we will be looking at a real estate tax increase which is the only way the County government could continue to provide the services,” warned Davis. To the Republicans, Rep. Davis quipped “Hell no. We won’t go.”
Rev. Jackson said, “We’re talking about one million plus citizens who will be knocked off of Medicaid if they succeed” to say nothing about 100,000 jobs that would be lost.” Jackson called the Republican bill “a nightmare” and said those who supported the House bill “are ganging up on the poor and that is unacceptable.”
Dr. Mehta said her hospital is 85-years old and was founded by a group of doctors. “To repeal and replace the ACA would really negatively impact our abilities to take care of our communities. We serve some of the most indigent patients in the state of Illinois.” She urged elected officials “to continue to fight” attempts to replace the ACA for it would replace most of her patients.
Rep. Camille Lilly, who is also vice president of External Affairs at Loretto Hospital said, “This act of repeal will harm our local community here in the Austin community on the West Side of Chicago,” Lilly said, warning that without ACA her hospital won’t be able to provide quality care for patients. What the House did, she said, “was devastating…harmful…and will turn their lives upside down….”
Muhammad, who represents 90,000 healthcare and childcare workers in SEIU in four states, said, “The bill that passed in the House called Trumpcare, that I refer to as Don’t Care, will deeply and severely harm…Medicaid. The ACA provides coverage to people with pre-conditions without paying higher costs. Don’t Care would allow insurers to tag more to people with pre-existing conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.”