Why your vote could be a life-or-death decision

After months of downplaying the dangers of the novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump has received no-expense-spared, cutting-edge treatment for his Covid-19 infection. Of course, it is reasonable that the President of the United States and commander in chief is treated aggressively — the country’s national security and leadership continuity are vital to our well-being and safety.

However, instead of fighting to ensure that all Americans have access to the care that we all could and should have, his administration is asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, putting millions of Americans at risk of losing their health insurance. The White House has joined a coalition of 18 Republican-led states and two self-employed Texans in arguing that the law’s individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional because Congress reduced the penalty for remaining uninsured to zero and, as a result, the entire law would be invalidated.

Texas v California will be heard by the Supreme Court on November 10, one week after Election Day.

We are among over 1,100 nurse leaders who recently signed an open letter urging Americans to think about how important access to health care is to them. As nurses, we know that people without health insurance risk dying prematurely, unable to afford the care that can prevent or better manage illnesses. As nurses, we know that the lack of affordable health care has made Americans sicker and more vulnerable to the ravages of Covid-19. You should not have to choose between life-saving care and bankruptcy. But that could be the choice you have to make if the Trump administration continues to undermine the ACA.

What will it mean for Americans if the White House is successful in overturning the ACA?

The ACA currently requires health insurers to cover people with “pre-existing conditions.”

These conditions, such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep apnea, chronic bronchitis, hypertension and various cancers afflict as many as 129 million Americansalmost half of whom are under 65.

And, now, we can add to the list the 7.9 million — and counting — Americans who have been infected by Covid-19, since we know that at least 10-20% of infected experience “long-haul” symptoms such as chronic neurological deficits. Imagine testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies and having your insurance coverage denied. How can they even consider these egregious reductions in basic healthcare coverage while the pandemic rages on unabated?

Well, the Trump administration and Republican members of Congress claim that they have plans to preserve this coverage. However, they have not considered nor passed any laws guaranteeing this. In fact, experts say that Trump’s executive order declaring protection of coverage for pre-existing conditions lacks teeth. Similarly, Senate Republicans have cynically proposed The Protect Act that is so filled with loopholes it would allow insurance companies to drop coverage of expensive conditions. Forty percent of us could be denied health coverage or see dramatic and unaffordable increases in our insurance premiums if the requirement for coverage of pre-existing conditions is eliminated.

Even if the high court declares the ACA to be constitutional, President Trump and the Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue to work to undermine the law in any way they can. The President’s absolute refusal to heed basic public health and safety precautions has proven dangerous to his health and to the health of those he encounters. He doesn’t care about your health and there is no reason to believe that this will change. If he, members of the GOP and their base refuse these measures, why would anyone believe that they will promote and support responsible healthcare policy for the rest of the nation?

Your vote in November may literally be a life-or-death decision.

We and our more than 1,100 nurse colleagues urge you to vote in favor of your own health and the health of your family, community and the nation.