By John L. Micek
Victoria Schiano’s son, Cole, is five-and-a-half. And he’s enduring what no kid his age should ever be asked to endure.
He has mitochondrial disease, lives with a central line to his heart, and has a feeding tube connected to his stomach and his intestines. He also needs constant monitoring for his seizure disorder. He has anxiety. And he’s on the autism spectrum.
Schiano, of Downingtown, Pa., is her son’s primary caregiver. And that’s made it hard for her to hold a job, she said during a recent press call organized by Pennsylvania Democrats.
But because of the Affordable Care Act, and its cost-saving measures and patient protection language, Schiano, and her husband Ryan, can shoulder the “hospital-level of care” that their son requires.
“Healthcare for Cole means he gets to be home with his family where he belongs, instead of a facility miles away,” Schiano said.”The Affordable Care Act has allowed for him to be home.”
With the midterm elections just months away, and control of Capitol Hill on the line, Republicans are making fresh noises about an assault on the Obama-era law, which turns 12 this week.
Hundreds of millions of Americans have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s ban on the denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions, as well as a Medicaid expansion that has benefited tens of millions more people.
While it had a troubled adolescence, the law has only grown in popularity, with a clear majority of Americans (55 percent) telling Kaiser Health they supported the law in 2020 as the U.S. Supreme Court took up a challenge to the law. That included Republicans who favored the preexisting condition ban.
But that has not proven an impediment for the GOP, which remains as steadfast in its opposition as ever — even if it cost them the U.S. House in 2018.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin was forced to backtrack in the face of scorching criticism after he told Breitbart News that repealing the ACA should be a priority for Republicans if they won back Congress and the White House in 2024.
While Johnson said he supports fixing the nation’s healthcare system, he was not suggesting that “repealing and replacing Obamacare should be one of [the GOP’s]priorities,” the Guardian reported.
Nonetheless, this is an instance where (to borrow a phrase) Republicans need to be taken both literally and seriously.
The head of the Senate Republicans’ campaign wing, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, already has rolled out a stupendously wrong-headed policy agenda that takes a sledgehammer to the nation’s social safety net, even as it raises taxes on the poorest Americans.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said no such plan will pass while he’s running the Senate GOP. An additional fringe benefit — Republicans also have proven almost comically incompetent at actually coming up with a replacement for the healthcare law.
But the fact that Republicans are talking seriously about this is worrying enough.
Even if it faces a guaranteed White House veto, it’s not hard to imagine reinvigorated GOP majorities in the House and Senate trying to repeal the law in 2023, even as they work to stymie President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda heading into 2024.
Hence the Pennsylvania press call, one of the many that Democrats have been holding over the past few months to tout the components of Biden’s agenda — from jobs and COVID to infrastructure and school funding — as they try to rally Democrats ahead of a tough campaign season.
“We know that Pennsylvanians and all Americanas need support, and that they want leaders who will work tirelessly to improve their lives,” Democratic Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, whose seat is a takeover target for the GOP, said. “… A Republican majority would be devastating for Americans.”
The pandemic, which cost us so much, underlined the importance of the nation’s healthcare system. And so many sick Americans were able to obtain treatment because of the coverage they had through the Affordable Care Act.
What has happened once can happen again. That’s reason enough to take GOP threats literally and seriously. And it’s reason enough to make sure they do not prevail.
An award-winning political journalist, John L. Micek is Editor-in-Chief of The Pennsylvania Capital-Star in Harrisburg, Pa. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek.