“While we believe that nothing short of a single payer system will provide adequate access to healthcare for all people, the ACA has expanded it significantly.”
By Ebiere Okah and Lily Ostrer
As members of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP) and future health professionals, we endorse the #ProtectOurPatients Campaign and stand with them on January 9th in their efforts to prevent the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). While we believe that nothing short of a single payer system will provide adequate access to healthcare for all people, the ACA has expanded it significantly. As a result of the ACA, more than 20 million people gained insurance coverage, insurers are no longer allowed to deny coverage due to pre-existing conditions and children are allowed to remain under their parents insurance for a longer period of time. We acknowledge that the ACA has significant shortcomings: it leaves nearly 27 million people uninsured and additional people underinsured and it strengthens the grip that private insurance companies hold on our healthcare system. Nevertheless, the incoming Trump administration’s threats to repeal the ACA would lead to a situation far worse for our patients – and much further from a single-payer system – than the status quo.
While single payer is theoretically an option when the ACA is repealed, it is unlikely to happen under a Trump administration. The president-elect’s pick for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, introduced legislation as a member of Congress that would have replaced the ACA and relied on discredited policies like high-risk pools and individual tax credits. Price has also proposed privatizing Medicare through the use of vouchers. No version of Tom Price’s vision includes single-payer healthcare. Instead, his proposals move far in the opposite direction to privatize care and strip away health coverage from millions of Americans.
While we remain committed to fighting for universal health coverage through a single-payer system, we know that we must also make compromises and sacrifices in the face of the discriminatory and hateful leadership that will soon be ushered into federal office. Where we are now is, unfortunately, defending the ACA and preventing its repeal. That is why we enthusiastically join with other students and future health care providers in building the movement to #ProtectOurPatients and advocating against repeal of the Affordable Care Act. We plan to stand with them in Washington D.C. on January 9th to defend access to healthcare for millions of people and to reiterate that our vision of health justice is one that ensures expanding access to healthcare for all Americans.