The post originally appeared on Cleveland.com and was submitted by Chad Griffin, President of HRC, and William Hardy, President and CEO of Equitas Health.
For millions of Americans across the country, the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act is a terrifying prospect. People are facing dire consequences if President Donald Trump succeeds in his quest to destroy health care to serve a political talking point, and the impact on LGBTQ people, communities of color, women, children, seniors and others disproportionately reliant on the ACA will be devastating.
Since its passage, the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to crucial health care services to millions of people.
While the ACA is not perfect, Trump and his allies have made clear they are uninterested in fixing it; they are interested in destroying it, to say they did. In the process, they've managed to load the bill with sneaky provisions that give tax breaks to the wealthy which would be paid for on the backs of our nation's most vulnerable communities.
And that answer is simple.
After weeks of secrecy, the Senate proposal unveiled last week by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is just as radical, reckless, and dangerous as the bill passed by House Republicans in May. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the House bill would rip health care away from 23 million people, while the Senate bill would rip health care away from 22 million people, including many in the LGBTQ community.
The Trump-Pence-McConnell proposal makes things worse for everyone. And what we know is this: One life lost is one too many. Simply put, this proposal would put millions of lives at risk.
And that's why the LGBTQ community is asking all senators -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- to save the Affordable Care Act and the life-saving provisions it guarantees for so many in our community and across our country.
Both the House and Senate versions of the bill gut core provisions of the ACA and cut off tens of millions of Americans from life-saving health care coverage while increasing out-of-pocket costs.
Because of the ACA, tens of thousands of low-income people living with HIV have been able to obtain health insurance through the Medicaid expansion. This critical coverage ensures that people living with HIV have access to primary care and the lifesaving treatments they need to live longer, healthier lives. The Senate's so-called "Better Care Reconciliation Act" proposes drastic changes to Medicaid, and it will strip many of these people, and the most vulnerable among us, of essential health care coverage.
This bill will disproportionately impact LGBTQ Americans, leaving them with some of the poorest insurance coverage in the nation.
The LGBTQ community has benefited from the ACA's tax credit structure and the Medicaid expansion, and the rescission of both of these critical components will have devastating consequences for a community already facing significant health care disparities.
In another dangerous move, the Senate bill would also cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which would jeopardize the ability of clinics to deliver preventive health services, including HIV testing and transition-related care. Health centers, like those operated by Planned Parenthood, often offer the only culturally competent health care available, especially in rural and isolated areas. The ACA's public health and prevention fund, established to expand investments in the nation's public health infrastructure, would also be repealed.
Every single one of these proposals is a recipe for not only stripping health care from LGBTQ Americans, but also pushing the health care needs of the LGBTQ community back in the closet.
We've made strides in recent years that have allowed us to lift bans on HIV organ donation, improve health insurance coverage for those living with HIV, and help prevent future transmission. Much of this progress has been achieved through the Affordable Care Act. Without the ACA, critical prevention methods and access to lifesaving medication would be lost.
We've simply come too far to allow our elected leaders to drag us backwards by passing measures that threaten our quality of life and our community's survival.
At its core, this health care debate is what our fight has always been about: equal dignity and value under the law.
Saving the ACA is about saving lives, plain and simple. And we need all senators to put party and politics aside and do what's right for our country, for Americans, and for our community.