Progress Virginia Press Call Highlights Impact of Brat’s Votes to Take Away Healthcare from Hundreds of Thousands of Virginians
Richmond, VA– Seventh district voters expressed concern over the damage done by Congressman Dave Brat to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during a press call hosted by Progress Virginia today. Scheduled to occur before Brat’s appearance at a “Partners in Healthcare” meeting on August 29 at a local hospital, the press call focused instead on how Brat has been an enemy in healthcare by voting to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, revoke the ACA’s individual mandate and by working to defund Planned Parenthood.
Healthcare is a top issue for voters during the 2018 midterm election. Virginians want affordable healthcare, that’s why the Commonwealth expanded Medicaid coverage to 400,000 people this year. Nonetheless, Republicans like Congressman Dave Brat have been doing their best to cut off access to healthcare to millions of Americans. Brat’s vote to repeal the ACA would have denied healthcare to 562,500 Virginians, including 49,600 constituents in the 7th district.
Beth Hedquist is a 7th District voter who lives with epilepsy that participated in today’s press call. Hedquist is worried about how efforts to undermine the ACA will increase her health insurance premiums and take away protections for pre-existing conditions. “I was paying a lot of money for health insurance (prior to the ACA). When the ACA became law, I was able to significantly lower my premiums. Also, it gave me the peace of mind knowing that I didn’t have to worry about being penalized with higher premiums or possibly denied for having a pre-existing condition,” Hedquist said. “I was very upset that Dave Brat voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I’m worried that I won’t be able to afford coverage.”
Crystal Neilson Hall is a goat farmer and small business owner who lives in Goochland. She said that the ACA allowed her family to take the leap of faith and start a business of their own.
“My husband I work a minimum of 80 hours each every week. We are hard workers and are just at the poverty level. Our children are on Medicaid. My husband and I benefit from a substantial subsidy from the ACA,” Neilson Hall said. “The only reason we continue to be small business owners and work on growing our business is because of the ACA. (With the ACA), we knew we were going to have the subsidy to fall back on, we knew that my husband would be covered. It’s frightening to think that we wouldn’t have health insurance.”
Ross Airington, the Health Policy Director at Washington Strategic Consulting, said he didn’t think that eight years after the ACA’s passage that the nation would be dealing with so much blowback against the ACA. “The ACA is working. More than 20 million people have gained coverage since the law was enacted in 2010,” Airington said. “The law has been a resounding success, but Congress and the current administration seem to be doing all they can to undermine and erode the success of the ACA.”
The conservative attack on people’s health doesn’t stop there. In May, the Trump administration introduced a gag rule that would undercut the nation’s Title X program, which provides affordable birth control and reproductive healthcare to millions of low-income Americans. Under the gag rule, healthcare providers would no longer be able to refer their patients for safe, legal abortion. In May, Dave Brat signed a letter with other conservative members of Congress, urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to ban Title X funding for organizations like Planned Parenthood. Such cuts would be devastating for Virginians seeking healthcare.
Dr. Shanthi Ramesh, Medical Director of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, said that cuts to Title X funding would dramatically affect access to care in communities across Virginia and deepen existing inequities in the healthcare system. She was also concerned about how the gag rule would affect her relationship with patients. “I can tell you as a health care provider that the idea of seeing a patient and not being able to honestly and fully counsel them about their options is unethical. It’s not why we go into medicine,” Dr. Ramesh said during the call. “The fact that Dave Brat would support such and obvious intrusion into the patient-provider relationship is untenable.”
Students across the Commonwealth depend on services that Planned Parenthood provides. Melana Llanos is a Planned Parenthood patient who participated in today’s call. “I was extremely satisfied with the care I received at Planned Parenthood. As students, it’s important that we have Title X funding and making sure that other students have the safety of knowing that I can live my life, knowing that I won’t have to drop out if anything happens,” Llanos said.
Everyone deserves to live with the security of knowing that they can see a doctor when they need to and that a medical bill won’t make them bankrupt. Congressman Dave Brat has made it his mission to make it harder for people to see a doctor by voting to take away access to healthcare and attacking Title X programs. His votes have real consequences for the people living in his district.