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Cory Booker: It’s Time To Get Covered — What We Have To Lose If The Trump Administration Limits Health Care

Cory Booker: It’s Time To Get Covered — What We Have To Lose If The Trump Administration Limits Health Care
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Open enrollment started earlier this month, which means that from now until December 15th, you can visit HealthCare.gov to shop, compare, and enroll in health coverage for next year.

But if you haven’t heard or seen much about it, that’s probably because President Trump and his Administration don’t want you to.

In fact, the Trump Administration has gone to great lengths to make it more difficult for Americans to get enrolled. Trump and his Administration have gone as far as shortening the enrollment period by half, gutting the budget to advertise open enrollment by a whopping 90 percent, cutting grants that go to nonprofits that help people get covered by 40 percent, and taking the enrollment website, HealthCare.Gov, offline during the mornings on the one day of the week most working Americans have off— every single Sunday, except one, for the next five weeks.

If President Trump’s ultimate goal was to get “insurance for everybody,” as he’s claimed, and to get more Americans covered, this would all seem pretty counterintuitive. 

But the Trump Administration isn’t trying to expand access to coverage or help more Americans access lifesaving care. They are doing all they can to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, one of President Obama’s signature achievements.  The Trump Administration’s real goal this enrollment season is to set the stage to again try to push through the destructive Trumpcare agenda that would kick millions off of their health coverage.

But we can’t let them do that—there’s just too much at stake.

We need to spread the word that now is the time to take action, get enrolled and maybe even help a family member, friend or neighbor sign up for coverage. Because of the ACA, all of the plans now offered on HealthCare.gov must cover a comprehensive set of essential benefits, including maternity and newborn care and preventive services like breast and cervical cancer screenings. Most people who enroll for coverage through the ACA will be eligible for financial assistance, 8 out of 10 people can now find a plan for less than $75 per month, and many will even find plans with no monthly premium. 

Since the ACA became law, the uninsured rate has dropped to a historic low — including by one-third for Latinos and by half for African Americans — and personal bankruptcies have dropped by 50 percent. From rural areas to suburban towns to cities, more Americans have health coverage and access to quality care than ever before. 

I know firsthand the kind of difference the ACA has made for my community in Newark, New Jersey. I remember what it was like in my city before the ACA was passed, when too many folks couldn’t get quality insurance and would put off going to the doctor until it became so bad that they had to go to the emergency room for treatment—causing their potentially preventable illnesses to become much worse, being forced to miss work and causing their families to fall behind.

But we also know that there’s still so much work to do to expand access not just to coverage, but to quality care for more Americans, and particularly for women of color. Black and Latina women are still diagnosed and die from detectable cancers like cervical cancer at rates far higher than their white peers, and Black women are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women and are at increased risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

We know the right way to address these challenges—study after study has shown that expanding access to health coverage, not restricting it, improves health outcomes. And we know that when people get health coverage, they become more financially secure, they report better health and well-being—and that makes our economy more secure and our communities stronger. And we know that children growing up with healthcare coverage do better in school, are more likely to graduate high school and college, earn higher wages and contribute more to a competitive American workforce as adults.

So in the face of Trump and his Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, we all need to spread the word that the time to enroll is now.

We have until December 15th in most states to get our family, friends and neighbors who need coverage enrolled. There’s too much at stake not to act.

So if you or someone you know needs health coverage, visit HealthCare.gov to shop, compare, and enroll in a plan that meets your needs and budget. You can also use HealthCare.gov’s “window shopping” tool to browse plans and estimate the amount of financial assistance you will receive without filling out an application.  If you or a loved one need help enrolling, you can search for local help on HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.     

We’ve already seen many times this year what happens when Republicans in Washington threaten the health coverage of millions: the American people respond, and their action, their voices, protests, calls and letters remind us that the power of the people is still greater than the people in power.

It’s time to do it again.