By State Senator LaTonya Johnson
Represents Wisconsin’s 6th Senate District and lives in Milwaukee.
COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing in Wisconsin. Our hospitals are almost at full capacity. The economy is in shambles. And Black and brown communities are being hit the hardest.
It didn’t have to be this bad.
For months, President Donald Trump downplayed the pandemic and lied to the American people. He failed our state. He failed America. Worse yet, he’s still not done playing politics with our lives.
Right now, Trump is fighting the Supreme Court to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) — including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Should he succeed, the health and financial consequences will be catastrophic for our state.
If Trump overturns ACA, more than 150,000 people in Wisconsin will lose health care coverage, driving up the rate of uninsured nonelderly individuals in the state by 35%.
Parents who recently lost their jobs due to the pandemic will be driven deeper into debt to pay for prescription medications. Frontline workers earning hourly wages may choose to skip a doctor’s visit to avoid the additional expense — a difficult decision that puts their health and everyone else’s health at risk. And people suffering from COVID-19 complications, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next deniable pre-existing condition.
Instead of working to improve our health care system and bring costs down for families, Trump is trying to unravel President Barack Obama’s crowning achievement and has no plan to deal with the disastrous aftermath.
Fortunately, Joe Biden has a plan to protect and expand access to health care, the experience to help us recover, and the empathy to help our country heal. He is the only candidate in the race who fought shoulder to shoulder with Obama to expand access to health care and to protect the more than 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions. And as president, we know he will have our back.
Biden has laid out a detailed path forward that would protect care for people with pre-existing conditions, lower the cost of health care, expand coverage to all Americans and make all COVID testing, treatment and any vaccine free. He has promised to protect and build on Obamacare by offering a new public option like Medicare. He has also committed to lowering Medicare eligibility to 60 to give people more health care options and to lowering costs of prescription drugs.
And he is committed to not just health care, but also health equity for communities of color. That means working to reduce maternal mortality rates, especially for Black women, and fighting to end the environmental injustices that have hurt the health of so many Black, brown and low-income communities.
For me, this fight to save our health care is personal. Before being sworn into the state legislature, I didn’t have health care because I couldn’t afford it. Six months after being sworn in, I was told I had to have emergency surgery. A procedure like that would have left me financially devastated before.
I know just how important Obamacare is to the millions of Americans who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford insurance and for the 2.4 million Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions, like asthma and diabetes. I know just how high the stakes are this election.
Make no mistake about it: our health care is on the ballot. We need to protect lives from Trump’s chaos, lies and failures. Make a plan to vote today at iwillvote.com/WI – and make sure your friends, your family and your neighbors have plans to vote and to make their voices heard.