With 18 days to go until the midterm elections, there is no denying that healthcare is taking center stage. It’s smart strategy for candidates, considering that voters still name healthcare their #1 issue. There has been a host of action and activism around preserving pre-existing condition protections (that’s us!), lowering prescription drug prices (us, too), and ensuring access for all (oh, look – us again). It’s such a big issue that, after eight years of trying and failing to repeal Obamacare, Republicans have stopped mentioning it at all on the campaign trail for fear that their positions will further enrage voters.
Why does the threat to healthcare – an issue that’s been simmering for years – suddenly seem so urgent?
Uncertainty. For two years, we have been unable to breathe easy because we just don’t know what’s around the corner – not just for healthcare, but for many legislative issues. But for our community, unwelcome changes to healthcare pose an existential threat. It’s literally our lives on the line.
We were in shock after the 2016 election. The party most interested in stripping healthcare protections was in power with support from the White House for the first time. If it hadn’t been for one Senator’s sense of outrage over the lack of regular order during the ACA repeal process last year, we would have had to start at the bottom of a hill that we have already climbed.
But just because healthcare didn’t implode last year doesn’t mean that the threat doesn’t continue to hang over our heads every day one party controls all of elected Washington. In fact, the Senate Majority Leader has already declared that they will repeal the ACA first chance they get if Republicans retain control of Congress. It would be one thing if they intended to replace our protections with something equally beneficial, but we have seen what they are offering, and it is far from adequate.
Two years is a long time to be uncertain about anything. You can’t de-stress, which affects almost all chronic conditions poorly. You feel paralyzed because you feel helpless, like you are not in control of your own life and you can’t do anything to fix it.
Now, as the election approaches, we understand that we have one shot to take back a sliver of control over our healthcare future. The urgency will likely continue to build until November 6th, election day.
The more we do, the better we feel -- Vote!
Fear and uncertainty can be channeled into action and action is the antidote for fear and uncertainty.
Some people are saying this is the most important election in American history. I’m not sure that’s true, but it certainly feels like it’s the most important one in our lifetimes. It will put a check on an Executive Branch that seems out of control. And we could send a message to a Legislative Branch that has ceded much of its power to the Executive.
But times are tight, and sometimes it’s hard to get away to vote.
To those whose jobs don’t give paid time off or time to vote – consider the cost before you forego voting. The 2016 election was decided by a ridiculously small number of voters, and more recent contests by even fewer. (~0.25%)
It might be hard to get to your polling place – Lyft is giving 50% off rides to polling places for everyone and free rides for those in underserved communities, Uber is helping with registration and giving free rides, and Carpool Vote gives free rides in selected locations.
Some states are throwing up obstacles to keep minority populations from voting – don’t let them decide what you are going to do. Vote anyway. Provisional ballots might take a little longer, but they’re still counted.
If there’s absolutely no way you can get away on Election Day, consider early voting or an absentee ballot.
And if you want the comfort of having done a little bit more, check out the Vote With Me App to encourage your friends in swing districts to vote, too. Or check in with Vote.org so you can help with last minute voter registration pushes.
Never forget that the people causing all of that fear and uncertainty work for us. We can fire them if we are unsatisfied with their job performance. But we’ve only got one shot. On one day. In less that three weeks.