With the election results finally declared official, we move from the unknown and onto what’s next. However, this is a bittersweet moment as the past days, weeks, and months have shined a bright light on the true character of our nation — one steeped in injustice and inequity, where racism, xenophobia, sexism, classism, and homophobia remain as cornerstones across states, systems, and beliefs. Nevertheless, we pick up the mantle and continue the relentless pursuit of just and equitable access to health care for all.
Protect Our Care Illinois looks forward to the implementation of the Biden/Harris administration’s plans to expand access to quality, affordable health care to all Americans regardless of their race, immigration status, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic level. We will fight to expand, preserve, and reestablish protections for LGBTQ+ communities, low-income populations, and immigrants who have been abused and ignored for the past four years.
However, in spite of the incoming administration’s demonstrated commitment to health care expansion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still in jeopardy. In fact, the closeness of the election signals that not every American is driven by the values of racial equity, health equity, and justice for all.
While our nation has historically struggled to provide affordable and equitable health care, since it was signed into law in 2010, the ACA has been under attack. Protect Our Care Illinois will be focusing our efforts on the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS)’s November 10 oral arguments hearing in the Health Care Repeal lawsuit (California v. Texas), the culmination of a series of baseless attacks on people’s health care access that questions the constitutionality of the ACA.
In the decade since its inception, the ACA has ensured access to health care for more than 22 million Americans, lowering the uninsured rate of both children and adults. Currently, almost one million Illinoisans receive coverage through the ACA (approximately 630,000 through the Medicaid expansion and nearly 300,000 through the Marketplace). Furthermore, the ACA has expanded access to preventive care and family planning services; established essential protections for Americans living with pre-existing conditions (including over 5.4 million in Illinois), and codified anti-discrimination laws protecting individuals’ rights to high quality accessible health care.
Should the ACA be struck down, nearly 20 million Americans would be at risk of losing their health care coverage. The health care coverage losses would hit people of color especially hard, right as they are also having to face job losses due to the pandemic. The uninsured rate for Black people would dramatically increase and adults without a college degree could face major coverage losses, particularly those who are people of color.
To be clear, further expansion of health insurance is needed to achieve universal coverage. There were approximately 30 million people uninsured in 2019, and millions more lost their insurance coverage in the economic devastation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 900,000 Illinoisans were uninsured before COVID-19 and that number has climbed in the economic fallout. Denial of health coverage is an unacceptable, deadly health injustice. The incoming Biden Administration should work ambitiously with Congress to reach health insurance coverage for all such that health care is guaranteed as a human right.
While more is needed to ensure all Americans have meaningful access to equitable health care, the ACA has made significant progress on reducing health care inequities. Protect Our Care Illinois refuses to allow ANY reversal of the progress made on health insurance coverage and will continue to demand health care for all. We invite you to join us in the fight to protect our care. To join Protect Our Care, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.