Q&A: Congressman Raul Ruiz Reacts to Trumpcare

Editor’s Note: Last month, Senate Republicans ultimately voted to reject a proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’ Still, the debate concerning health care in the United States in far from over. Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., spoke with Coachella Uninc. program associate and reporter Paulina Rojas recently about what he views are the implications of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Why should young people care about what is currently going on with the American Health Care Act (AHCA)?

This is going to affect them dramatically because young people also get sick. There’s young people that get in a car accident, there’s young people that get injured in sports, at their jobs, that eventually need to go to the emergency department. Also, especially young people in the Eastern Coachella Valley care about their parents and they care about their uncles and aunts and their grandparents and they know that a family unit is the most important unit in our society, especially in our culture. So that if your grandparent is 62 years old now and can’t afford [living costs] because they are spending half of their salary on health care, then that affects your parents and affects their ability to make ends meet.

What is something you would like to clarify about the current discussion around ACA?

One, Obamacare is not failing. You cannot call insuring 20 million more people a failure. You cannot call protecting youth to stay on their parents’ health care up to the age of 26 a failure. You cannot call people who now have guaranteed coverage for emergency care, maternity care, mental health care, pharmaceutical drugs a failure. You cannot call protecting people with pre-existing conditions from being denied health insurance or increasing their costs a failure. So these are successes of the Affordable Care Act.


It is like someone who says you’re gonna fall down and then they pull the rug from underneath you and say, ‘See, you fell down.’


The failure is the willful and purposeful threat and uncertainty that Republicans and the Trump administration have created in order to make private health insurance charge more in premiums and also to force them to leave the exchanges. They’ve done this for political gain, in order to just tell people that, ‘See, these are the problems that are happening.’

It is like someone who says you’re gonna fall down and then they pull the rug from underneath you and say, ‘See, you fell down.’

So we need to break down the true reasons why health care costs are going up. We know that it is the cost of medication. We know that is the cost of health care and this bill [Trumpcare] does nothing for that. Instead, it gives a nice, huge tax break to the pharmaceutical industry.

What is your message to those in the Eastern Coachella Valley that might not be seeking medical care right now because they are scared?

There is no need to live in fear. We have to be dedicated to our families, our society, our community and to our jobs. Folks need to live good lives, with discipline and always be supportive of one another because we are going through some tough times with a lot of risks and threats. I encourage folks to live within their faith so they can continue to have faith that things in our political system will change in the future.

About the Author:

Paulina Rojas is a native New Yorker, Paulina has spent the past two years reporting on the Eastern Coachella Valley. She joined Coachella Unincorporated in 2016.  While it is different from the concrete jungle of Manhattan, she feels right at home in Coachella. In 2014 Paulinagraduated with a journalism degree from The University of Houston and is a member of The National Association of Hispanic Journalists. View her author page here.

 

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