Before I ran for the Senate, I was a bankruptcy law professor. I spent decades studying why working families were going broke.
Back when I got started, most experts believed that people went broke because of wasteful spending – running up credit card bills at the mall. But for most people, that wasn’t the case at all.
At the time, nearly nine out of every ten families listed just three reasons for their bankruptcies: job loss, family breakup (death or divorce), and medical problems. Half reported two of those problems. One in 13 was hit by all three.
Nobody was talking about medical bankruptcy, but my coauthors and I showed what was right in front of our faces: At the time, medical problems were pushing about 750,000 solid, middle-class families into bankruptcy each year.
No, the Affordable Care Act didn’t end medical bankruptcies or instantly solve America’s health care crisis. But it did end the annual and lifetime caps on many people’s insurance plans. It allowed people with pre-existing conditions to get insurance. And it gave states the resources to expand Medicaid – so seniors who needed nursing homes and babies born early could get the care they needed.
The so-called “health care plan” that Senate Republicans want to jam in the next few days before they skip town for the 4th of July ends that progress.
It lets insurance companies sell skimpier plans for higher out-of-pocket costs. It lets private insurance plans reinstate annual and lifetime caps on benefits for people who get really sick. And it guts Medicaid for the sick, for the elderly, for people with disabilities – for people who have nowhere else to turn.
If the Republicans rip health care away from 22 million Americans this week in order to give billionaires a tax break, people are still going to get diagnosed with cancer. Seniors are still going to have strokes and heart attacks. People are still going to get hit by drunk drivers. Babies are still going to be born with lungs and hearts that don’t work.
I’ve studied this heartbreaking problem for decades. I know that if the Republicans pass this bill, more people – even the most hard-working, responsible people – will go bankrupt. Some will die.
Please: Now is the time to make calls. Now is the time to call your friends and family with Republican senators and tell them what’s on the line – even your FOX News-loving uncle. Now is the time to share your story, share your photo, share your video on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. Now is the time to share your friends’ stories. Now is the time to join a group and get connected – because two voices are more than twice as powerful as one.
This fight is personal for me. When I was 12, my daddy had a heart attack. He was out of work for a long time, and the medical bills piled up. We lost our family station wagon, and we were about an inch away from losing our home.
Today, our family probably wouldn’t have made it.
We all know someone – a cancer survivor, a mom who went into early labor, or a parent or grandparent who got Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and needed help. Any of us could get bad news from a doctor that our insurance plans wouldn’t cover.
I’m in this fight all the way – I’ll give it everything I’ve got. But if we’re going to win, we need every single one of us in this fight. We need to fight like people’s lives depend on it – because people’s lives will depend on what happens next.
Thanks for being a part of this,