Dear Democrats: What Are You Going to Do About Healthcare?

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Dear Democrats: What Are You Going to Do About Healthcare?

Dear Democrats,

The House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and—barring some Senate miracle—it will soon be replaced with the AHCA. Currently, the AHCA stands to throw 24 million people off their health insurance. According to the American Journal of Public Health’s more conservative estimates, it will kill an additional 24,000 people a year.

So why the fuck were you singing?

The answer, from what I can tell, is that this murderous policy is so unpopular that you believe it won’t just hurt Republicans electorally, but hit them badly enough to give Democrats the House majority in 2018. Now, you’re pledging to fight back against what is basically mass murder by taking the House. But what’s less clear is, if you do take it…what the fuck are you actually going to do?

The fact that anyone even has to ask this question reveals the depth of your party’s problem here. From day one, the GOP made it unbearably clear that they were The Party of Repealing Obamacare. Everyone knew it’d be repealed if they won.

But Democrats? You did have clear a stance on healthcare, which was that you were The Party of Not Repealing Obamacare. If it’s gone, that position will no longer be possible. So, you need to tell us now: when it comes to healthcare, what are you the party of?

Yes, Republicans are terrible. But since we were all there last November, I won’t belabor the point that Republicans being terrible does not necessarily equal Democrats winning elections. The idea that simply hoping the GOP’s “scar” will be enough to win a House majority on its own is not a good one.

This makes it doubly important that, if they help you win, Americans need to know what you’re going to win for. Will you try to enact another ACA-type hodgepodge which ends up so confusing that millions didn’t even realize it was helping them until this year?And one that, for all its gains, still kept a whopping 28 million people uninsured?

Or will you take up the mantle of true Universal Healthcare, and support Medicare-for-All—a simple, easy to explain policy that most people know means free healthcare for everyone? Or pushing Rep. John Conyers’ H.R. 676, an already-on-the floor bill that would expand Medicare to all, the way the GOP did with their own healthcare bills for years? Or reducing the amount of people uninsured not back to 28 million, but to zero?

Look, I get it—you were trying to protect the status quo from getting worse. Those 28 million Americans stayed uninsured because you thought you had to dedicate all your resources to keeping that number from growing. But what made sense back then no longer applies. The status quo has changed, and those resources have to go towards selling yourselves as offering a superior alternative.

So what will it be?

You can probably tell what I think. If you do go with Medicare-for-All, you can look voters in the eye and say “When Democrats are in charge, you will never have to debate whether or not to call an ambulance because the bill will destroy your savings. Never have to go into six figures of debt because you’re sick. And never have to hope you have enough social media followers to crowdfund your ability to stay alive.” (Millennials will appreciate this one, I promise!).

Fortunately, some of you—a majority even!—seem to agree, and have cosponsored Conyers’ bill. To those who haven’t, here is why you should. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, this is the amount of people with no health insurance in each of your districts:

Alabama

Terri A. Sewell. 07, 78,314 uninsured, (202) 225-2665

Arizona

Tom O’Halleran 01, 85,158 uninsured, (202) 225-3361
Kyrsten Sinema 09, 92,064 uninsured, (202) 225-9888

California

Ami Bera 07, 34,581 uninsured, (202) 225-5716
Nancy Pelosi 12, 33,045 uninsured, (202) 225-4965
Jim Costa 16, 80,709 uninsured, (202) 225-3341
Salud Carbajal 24, 68,015 uninsured, (202) 225-3601
Julia Brownley 26, 68,857 uninsured, (202) 225-5811
Adam Schiff 28, 70,169 uninsured, (202) 225-4176
Tony Cárdenas 29, 97,182 uninsured, (202) 225-6131
Brad Sherman 30, 66,851 uninsured, (202) 225-5911
Pete Aguilar 31, 63,176 uninsured, (202) 225-3201
Norma Torres 35, 85,613 uninsured, (202) 225-6161
Raul Ruiz 36, 76,427 uninsured, (202) 225-5330
Juan Vargas 51, 90,251 uninsured, (202) 225-8045
Scott Peters 52, 39,794 uninsured, (202) 225-0508
Susan Davis 53, 65,316 uninsured, (202) 225-2040

Connecticut

John Larson 01, 33,494 uninsured, (202) 225-2265
Joe Courtney 02, 24,561 uninsured, (202) 225-2076
Rosa Delauro 03, 39,901 uninsured, (202) 225-3661
Jim Himes 04, 66,093 uninsured, (202) 225-5541
Elizabeth Esty 05, 46,473 uninsured, (202) 225-4476

Delaware

Lisa Blunt Rochester AL uninsured, 54,498, (202) 225-4165

Florida

Stephanie Murphy 07, 82,420 uninsured, (202) 225-4035
Val Demings 10, 117,120 uninsured, (202) 225-2176
Charlie Crist 13, 82,305 uninsured, (202) 225-5961
Lois Frankel 21, 101,150 uninsured, (202) 225-9890
Ted Deutch 22, 101,480 uninsured, (202) 225-3001
Debbie Wasserman Schultz 23, 83,140 uninsured, (202) 225-7931

Georgia

Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. 02, 98,955 uninsured, (202) 225-3631
David Scott 13, 116,409 uninsured, (202) 225-2939

Hawaii

Colleen Hanabusa 01, 24,584 uninsured, (202) 225-2726

Illinois

Dan Lipinski 03, 64,463 uninsured, (202) 225-5701
Mike Quigley 05, 47,396 uninsured, (202) 225-4061
Raja Krishnamoorthi 08 64,590 uninsured, (202) 225-3711
Brad Schneider 10, 61,031 uninsured, (202) 225-4835
Bill Foster 11, 58,139 uninsured, (202) 225-3515
Cheri Bustos 17, 36,153 uninsured, (202) 225-5905

Louisiana

Cedric Richmond 02, 103,361 uninsured, (202) 225-6636

Maryland

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger 02, 49,321 uninsured, (202) 225-3061
Steny Hoyer 05, 41,649 uninsured, (202) 225-4131
John Delaney 06, 50,809 uninsured, (202) 225-2721

Massachussetts

Richard E. Neal 01, 22,786 uninsured, (202) 225-5601
Niki Tsongas 03, 22,815 uninsured, (202) 225-3411
Joe Kennedy III 04, 15,681 uninsured, (202) 225-5931
Seth Moulton 06, 16,976 uninsured, (202) 225-8020
Stephen Lynch 08, 14,587 uninsured, (202) 225-8273
Bill Keating 09, 23,126 uninsured, (202) 225-3111

Michigan

Dan Kildee, 37,808 uninsured, (202) 225-3611
Sandy Levin 09, 41,285 uninsured, (202) 225-4961

Minnesota

Tim Walz 01, 28,420 uninsured, (202) 225-2472
Betty McCollum 04, 35,715 uninsured, (202) 225-6631
Collin C. Peterson 07, 33,520 uninsured, (202) 225-2165

Nevada

Jacky Rosen 03, 60,499 uninsured, (202) 225-3252
Ruben Kihuen 04, 83,906 uninsured, (202) 225-9894

New Hampshire

Carol Shea-Porter 01, 45,925 uninsured, (202) 225-5456
Ann Mclane Kuster 02, 37,463 uninsured, (202) 225-5206

New Jersey

Donald Norcross 01, 49,292 uninsured, (202) 225-6501
Josh Gottheimer 05, 40,236 uninsured, (202) 225-4465
Frank Pallone, Jr. 06, 66,158 uninsured, (202) 225-4671
Bill Pascrell 09, 96,624 uninsured, (202) 225-5751

New Mexico

Michelle Lujan Grisham 01, 70,755 uninsured, (202) 225-6316
Ben Ray Luján 03, 81,551 uninsured, (202) 225-6190

New York

Thomas Suozzi 03, 29,719 uninsured, (202) 225-3335
Kathleen Rice 04, 44,753 uninsured, (202) 225-5516
Joe Crowley 14, 100,878 uninsured, (202) 225-3965
Nita Lowey 17, 54,222 uninsured, (202) 225-6506
Sean Patrick Maloney 18, 31,383 uninsured, (202) 225-5441

Oregon

Kurt Schrader 05, 49,979 uninsured, (202) 225-5711

Rhode Island

Jim Langevin 02, 26,410 uninsured, (202) 225-2735

Texas

Beto O’Rourke 16, 137,407 uninsured, (202) 225-4831
Joaquin Castro 20, 122,352 uninsured, (202) 225-3236
Henry Cuellar 28, 176,416 uninsured, (202) 225-1640
Eddie Bernice Johnson 30, 154,790 uninsured, (202) 225-8885
Marc Veasey 33, 231,216 uninsured, (202) 225-9897
Filemon Vela 34, 177,920 uninsured, (202) 225-9901
Lloyed Dogett 35, 170,942 uninsured, (202) 225-4865

Virginia

Donald McEachin 04, 68,200 uninsured, (202) 225-6365
Don Beyer 08, 78,130 uninsured, (202) 225-4376
Gerry Connolly 11, 75,775 uninsured, (202) 225-1492

Washington

Suzan DelBene 01, 35,736 uninsured, (202) 225-6311
Rick Larsen 02, 49,260 uninsured, (202) 225-2605
Derek Kilmer 06, 42,425 uninsured, (202) 225-5916
Denny Heck 10, 47,111 uninsured, (202) 225-9740

Wisconsin

Ron Kind 03, 42,623 uninsured, (202) 225-5506

Of course, you’re less likely to listen to me than your actual constituents—so if any are reading, please use the numbers provided to call and ask your rep to cosponsor H.R. 676. And maybe mention that that five or six digit number above isn’t how many people will be uninsured if the ACA is repealed, it’s how many are uninsured right now. A number Republicans could soon double.

That’s only a start though. Outside of people like me who read tweets about politics all day, barely anyone even knows this bill is a thing. And even if they did, it doesn’t matter how many people sponsor a bill if party leaders like Nancy Pelosi refuse to make it part of the platform because no one will believe you’re for real. If it is what you want, shout it like the GOP did, from party leadership down to rank and file, so that everyone knows your victory means they’re getting healthcare.

Democrats, campaigning to merely preserve the complicated and compromised ACA has failed. And while you’re singing about how their imminent suffering may get you some seats, there’s millions and millions of terrified people across the country who deserve to know what the Democrats who take those seats will fight for.

After all, just yesterday, the UK’s Labour Party made record gains by replacing half-measures with a platform of ambitious, yet easy to understand policies not unlike this one. Yes, the more you aim for something like Medicare-for-All, the more you’ll have to battle big interests and donors and lobbies. But if you’re not going to, at least have the decency to tell us, so we can find someone who will.

Sincerely,

Charlie Heller

Charlie Heller is a freelance writer and member of the NYC DSA Climate Justice Working Group.

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