Recently, a group of mothers, children and physicians visited Sen. Mike Crapo’s Boise office and met with his staff. We described both inspiring and heartbreaking stories of professional frustration and personal pain. We came with a single, urgent point: Stand with Idaho and vote “no” on the proposed Senate health care bill. Simply put, this bill will hurt Idahoans, especially our oldest, youngest, sickest and poorest. This bill hurts mothers and children. This bill has no heart.
We were previously told that the Senate would remedy the downright cruel House bill. That has not happened. This bill is a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, and a harsh slap in the face to hardworking families in Idaho. It does not reduce health care costs, does not expand coverage and will result in higher premiums for nearly every Idahoan. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, our premiums will spike by over 70 percent by 2020, all while plans will cover fewer essential services, like cancer screenings, hospitalizations and maternity care.
We don’t believe the proposed bill in Congress is what some voters meant by “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Do Idahoans want fewer patient rights? Fewer services for more money? Enormous tax cuts for billionaires? And how many Idahoans will be glad to hear that our state will soon lose $700 million in federal Medicaid support? Do our members of Congress think Idahoans want to hurt the most vulnerable among us: low-income children, expectant mothers, seniors and Idahoans with disabilities, in order to line the pockets of the wealthy?
Some members of Congress have touted this bill as an opportunity to restore “freedom” and “personal responsibility.” As a two-time survivor of cancer, Sen. Crapo knows firsthand that no one chooses illness, a chronic health condition or a debilitating accident. No child chooses to be born prematurely or with a serious illness, or to suffer through surgeries, hospitalizations and treatments. While any parent would choose to save their child’s life at any cost, is that freedom? Is having to choose between chemotherapy or bankruptcy, medicine or food, a doctor’s visit or a power bill, any kind of freedom at all?
Imagine an America where, instead of agonizing over premiums, deductibles, pre-existing conditions and out-of-network costs, people focused on getting better and feeling well. Where hardworking people didn’t lose valuable time, sleep and energy hobbling together care for their kids, for their parents, for themselves. What American greatness might actually be in reach when everyone has access to basic health care?
We ask that before voting on a bill that affects every person in this nation, millions of jobs, and over one-fifth of the economy, Sens. Crapo and Jim Risch have a town hall meeting to hear from us. It’s time to listen to the mothers, fathers, children and families they were elected to represent.
We need Idaho’s members of Congress to mind Idaho’s mothers.
Melanie Flitton Folwell is an Idaho native, freelance designer, volunteer and advocate. She is a member of Boise Moms for a Brighter Future, a nonpartisan local network of over 800 women committed to creating a safe, just and healthy world for every kid.