In the months leading up to the 2016 election, I was often asked why I supported scuttling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), especially the individual mandate.

When the ACA was being debated in the early part of President Obama’s first term in office, I took it upon myself to read the entire bill instead of being satisfied by talking points crafted by a  self-described “punk staffer.” That was a good thing, as I realized immediately that the monstrosity would collapse under its own weight. It was horrible for people with pre-existing conditions of any kind, but the talking points said otherwise.

It has been dismaying to watch the supporters of the ACA and almost every single organization in DC that represents people with disabilities or other pre-existing conditions tap into the fear that is palpable when the idea of losing coverage is floated. It’s a fear that I understand. I am a person with a PEC. It’s almost impossible for me to get individual coverage that I can afford with a deductible that doesn’t break our family bank. But I am not willing to give into fear, blindly, without looking more closely at the issues. It baffles me that so many others do.

It is unfair for people to traffic in our fear to maintain health care legislation that fits in with their ideological goals. How dare they frighten people into thinking that something is going to happen that never will? How dare they make people think that their very lives are in danger if a horrible piece of legislation is scrapped in favor of a better replacement? How dare supporters of the ACA  make people with disabilities and other pre-existing conditions believe they are going to die if they can’t have the ACA? What’s in it for them?

The answer is easy: votes. If fear is whipped up that our chances to live well with our disabilities or pre-existing condition, we supposedly will vote for politicians who promise the status quo or an even more restrictive health system. So, they whip up the fear. Wheelchairs are used to block offices, chase down Members of Congress in the halls as they try to go about the business of governing. The urine from leg bags is emptied in inconvenient places and, sometimes, on people. Hearings were disrupted by people shouting things they’d been told to say without ever doing their own homework. Mothers were terrorized thinking they will not be able to get the care for their seriously ill or disabled children if the individual mandate were not maintained because the ACA would fall apart, taking Medicaid and Medicare with it. They lose sleep. They don’t practice proper self-care as a result of manufactured worry and fear. Then those who only present half truths make themselves look like saviors. It sickens me. 

As previously stated, a large part of the fear mongering was based on the idea that the individual mandate revocation would cause the ACA to implode. It turns out that, even in the face of original CBO work ups, that simply isn’t true. The Washington Examiner shows clearly that “8.4 million signed up for coverage on the federal Obamacare exchange for 2019, down just slightly from 8.7 million a year earlier, when the mandate was in place.” See full article here

I hope people will stop telling half truths and complete falsehoods and that we will be able to have constructive conversations about real health care reform.