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‘Health care is a human right’: Why AFSCME members are turning to Biden for leadership

(Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
‘Health care is a human right’: Why AFSCME members are turning to Biden for leadership
By AFSCME Staff ·

Health care is always an issue at the top of the mind for working families, but this year the pandemic has thrown our health care system into sharp relief. With more than 210,000 dead and millions of others infected with the novel coronavirus, it is more important than ever to ensure all Americans have access to quality health care.

And yet the Trump administration – even in the wake of President Donald Trump’s COVID diagnosis and hospitalization – is still trying to take away the health care of millions of Americans by suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With no plan to replace it.

“Health care is a human right,” says Ketha Otis, the president of Local 2862 (AFSCME Florida).

Otis has firsthand experience with the difference the ACA has made to so many. When her son turned out to have a congenital heart defect and needed open heart surgery, she knew he would be covered thanks to the 2010 law. She knows having a preexisting condition won’t prevent him from getting covered in the future – unless Trump succeeds in overturning the law.

Joe Biden, in contrast, helped shepherd the ACA into law when he served as Barack Obama’s vice president, and he has promised to strengthen it as president.

He’ll expand access by offering a public option for health insurance, meaning low-cost, quality care will be available to everyone. He’ll act to lower premiums and lower the cost of prescription drugs. And he’ll make sure the ACA’s protections for people with preexisting conditions remain in place.

Those aren’t the only protections the ACA offers, as Otis well knows. She herself faced worrisome medical costs, but it was the ACA that kept insurance companies from putting a cap on her coverage, a common practice before Obamacare.

Trump, in contrast, has been promising to release a health care plan for the entire course of his presidency, often with specific deadlines he has failed to meet. His administration is suing to overturn the entire ACA and all its protections and benefits without any plan to replace them.

And during the pandemic, the president has utterly failed to provide the leadership that could have minimized the impact of COVID-19. He has even acted irresponsibly with his own diagnosis, telling Americans “don’t be afraid of COVID” after it killed more than 210,000 people.

There could not be a more fundamental difference between two candidates than Biden’s and Trump’s approaches to health care. It’s one of the top reasons Otis is throwing her support behind Biden.

“There’s a difference between the two candidates,” she says. “One cares and one doesn’t.”

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