If you are one of the 3 million Washingtonians with a preexisting condition — your health care is on the line next week.
If you are one of the over half a million Washingtonians who got their coverage through Medicaid expansion — your health care is on the line next week.
If you got your health coverage through the exchanges, or are a young adult still on your parents’ plan — your health care is on the line next week.
Why? Because Republicans are suing to take it away.
Next week, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana will hear a lawsuit brought by Republican governors and attorneys general, and supported by President Donald Trump, that could harm families by ending protections for people with preexisting conditions and undermining health care for patients across the country.
The last time Republicans tried to do this with their harmful Trumpcare bill, patients and families spoke out, fought back and won. The threat this time is just as dangerous, meaning our efforts to get Congress to act must be just as urgent.
If the Republicans win this lawsuit, it would be a personal nightmare for millions of patients with preexisting conditions. People with chronic diseases, people with disabilities, people fighting cancer and many more could lose the coverage they need to get lifesaving care.
But it’s not just people with preexisting conditions who would suffer. Health care for people covered through the federal exchanges, the state-based exchanges or through Medicaid expansion could be stripped away. At a time when young adults already face steep financial challenges, including historic amounts of student debt, it would mean they could no longer stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.
A Republican victory in court would even strike down federal protections that make sure the coverage people do have is high quality.
With so many families already struggling to keep up with costs, the last thing we need to do is give insurance companies more power to do less. Yet, a Republican victory would let them bring back annual and lifetime caps on benefits — even for people insured through their employers.
A Republican win means scrapping protections requiring insurance companies cover essential health benefits. In other words, while patients across the country are taking drastic steps to afford their prescriptions, Republicans would let insurers off the hook for covering them. While our communities are facing the maternal mortality crisis, the opioid crisis and the suicide crisis, Republicans don’t think insurers should have to cover maternal care and mental-health care — to say nothing of benefits like emergency care, preventive care and contraception.
The fact of the matter is, if Republicans win in court, patients and families lose.
Which is why I’ve been fighting back in Congress. I’m pushing for legislation that would let the Senate join this lawsuit on the side of families’ health care — something Washington state has already done — and make clear we believe protections for preexisting conditions should stay in place, and families shouldn’t have their health care ripped away.
Everyone who is worried about how this health care sabotage could hurt them or their loved ones should push the Senate to take common-sense steps like repealing junk plans, getting rid of damaging Trump administration waivers that hurt people with preexisting conditions and lowering health-care costs.
When Republicans tried to undermine families’ care two years ago, the thing that turned the tide was people like Julie, a patient from Washington state who fought, and won, four battles with cancer — something she could not have afforded to do without protections for preexisting conditions. She was one of the many everyday advocates who spoke up against Republicans’ awful plan.
Republicans may be trying to sabotage families’ care a different way this time, but the key to making Congress act is the same — your voice.
So make it heard. Tell your story. And help me tell Republicans to stop the relentless attacks on families’ health care.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.