Last week, President Trump, along with republican-led congress, decided to table the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) They did so after realizing that they didn’t have the votes to sustain it, which is not surprising, considering that the majority of Americans don’t want a full repeal and dismantling of the ACA.
What this means, for now, is that anyone who acquired insurance through the ACA, or anyone whose children are insured under an extension of it, may keep their benefits. This is an especially triumphant victory for women, minority groups, and those living under the poverty line, who all stood to suffer significant losses in accessible healthcare from the ACA repeal.
Women especially would be harmed by a loss of ACA coverage, in a number of ways. The Huffington post did a piece covering women’s input on this very topic, where they discussed things like losing access to basic preventative care, not knowing whether they would have the means to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, being turned down for care based on pre-existing conditions that disproportionately affect women, including being transgendered and being pregnant, and losing access to family planning tools. Many were even urging others to go get an IUD device before the repeal took effect because they might not be able to afford birth control afterwards.
It would seem that everyone is safe, for now, but that doesn’t mean the fight is over. A mere week after the discussion was tabled, the republican party assured Americans that the fight for repeal is not over, citing extreme pressure from conservatives who were on board with the plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan has made this a vow, despite the fact that it could take weeks or longer to get back the docket, which means that we only have weeks to make our voices heard.
So what can we do to make sure that our healthcare, and our livelihoods, are safe? How can we best utilize our time and resources to fight for access to healthcare for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or economic standing? Well, here are a few things that will make an impact:
Join The #ReadMyLips Movement
Mogul is participating in the #ReadMyLips initiative, which allows you to write a message to Trump telling him what you want to see from him in regards to women’s rights and health during his presidential term. These messages will all be printed and taken directly to the White House in a statue created by Saturday Night Live veterans. They will be delivered on April 21st, so you’ve only got a few weeks to get your message across.
You can write anything you’d like him to hear, from one sentence to a paragraph or two. Whatever is important to you, and whatever you see wrong that needs to be fixed, here is your chance to make a direct statement along with thousands of other women from across the country. You can find out how to make your own public message here, and if you share it on Facebook, you’ll get a free #ReadMyLips pin to display your prowess and determination.
Contact Your Lawmakers
One of the most important things you can dat this juncture is bug. Bug bug bug, and make your voice heard. There are a menagerie of ways to get in touch with your representatives, but some work better than others. According to former congressional staffer Emily Ellsworth, the most effective way to get congress to listen is to call them in their district office. Writing is still an effective way, too, but hand-written, snail-mailed letters get more attention than emails. It’s extremely important to personalize your message; as is always the case, form letters and recordings get overlooked before they're even done getting the message across. It’s also imperative to make sure you only spend your time contacting senate and house members who actually represent you.
If this is all new to you, it’s okay. There are a number of resources that can make it easy to find your lawmakers and to get in contact with them. For instance, there are a number of smartphone apps and websites that put representative’s contact info at their constituent’s fingertips, and a little bit of research will go a long way in helping you figure out which committees your lawmakers serve on and how those can be used to your benefit when making your voice heard. At the very least, your future is worth the time it takes to download an app that will make it a breeze to call your local, state, and national representatives to let them know how you feel about issues that can impact you.
Utilize Your Sway
If you happen to work in the healthcare field, or know someone who does, please be encouraged (and encourage others) to speak out about their personal experiences with fair health care access, the ACA, and the impact it’s had on the world. It’s also important for medical professionals to discuss these issues with their peers and take strides in their daily practices to advocate for those who need it. While it’s true that those in the healthcare field face a number of ethical dilemmas that don’t always make it easy to do the right thing, it doesn’t mean they can’t take small strides that will pay off later. Paying the bills and keeping their staff employed are issues that weigh heavily on administrators, but they can balance those responsibilities with their own ethics to figure out creative ways to make healthcare more accessible to those who are underserved. At this point in time, speaking out against the repeal as a medical professional is one of the best ways to serve communities, and I think most working in the field would agree with me there. So why not use your station to sway others?
Doctors and nurses aren’t the only ones who have a large amount of sway. Those whose professions stand to be negatively impacted by a repeal of the ACA should can make their voices heard, too. In a discussion about the future of social work, Mary Hylton, Social Work Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, coins the social and economic inequality Americans face as the biggest reason why social work is such an imperative field. Social workers are tasked with matching underserved populations with resources that can help them, and they are already facing a shortage of these resources. A repeal of the ACA would remove even more of these resources and make matters worse for those trying to educate communities about their health care options.
If you think you work in a field that can be negatively impacted by a repeal, or one where you feel your voice will have more sway than others, I highly encourage you to take action, and take action now. The fate of the ACA is currently teetering on the brink, so now is definitely the time to be moving and shaking.
Lead By Example
Sitting around and talking about injustices is one thing, but actually doing something is another. If you want to inspire change, you’ve got to make an effort. This can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. For the average American, contacting lawmakers and attending demonstrations might be as far as they can take it, and they absolutely should. I have always said that supporting a cause you agree with goes farther than protesting one that you don’t, but this doesn’t mean fighting against something is futile, especially in times like these. Protests are a wonderful way to get a message across, and they are an important right that we should exercise and maintain. Take for instance the Women’s March, which had unprecedented attendance this year, and though it saw a lot of controversy, it opened up an important dialogue that is still going today.
The last way to lead by example is to encourage your friends and family to get involved. Openly discuss your thoughts with them, and if they feel the same way you do, ask them to help. Share with them the information you’ve used to contact your lawmakers, and invite them to demonstrations in your area. Maybe ask them to help you stage one of your own? Not everyone enjoys discussing politics on social media, but when they do, camaraderie goes a long way, so make an effort to support those who share your opinions, and don’t pay any mind to those who don’t. There is always power in numbers, so do what you can to boost those numbers.
There’s no telling where the coming weeks and months will take us, but one thing’s for sure; we can’t stop the repeal if we don’t get up and do something about it.
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Mandi is a personal chef, professional baker, and caterer from the Pacific Northwest. She studied creative writing in college and enjoys freelancing in whatever spare time she can find. She is madly in love with root beer floats, the mountains surrounding her, and her cat, Buddha.