Advent 2020: Waiting for Health Care Justice
November 24, 2020
In the Catholic tradition, Advent is the sacred season of waiting. During Advent, we are called to reflect and hope for what new life may bring us. In this case, the newly elected Biden/Harris administration has created a world of opportunity for advancing policies that are needed to protect the common good.
We have been waiting four years for the Trump administration to atone for their attacks on our nation’s health care, but they have remained consistent in their efforts to strip vulnerable people of care, while encouraging the increasing profit margins of private insurance companies. President-elect Joe Biden has promised to protect and expand the Affordable Care Act and create a more accessible health care system. During this period of transition and season of waiting, we continue to hope for equitable health care for all.
After four years of undermining the Affordable Care Act, the Trump Administration has driven coverage rates into the ground while health care costs skyrocket. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of uninsured Americans rose by 2.3 million from 2016 to 2019, including 726,000 children. The rising number of uninsured people is the result of actions taken to attack the ACA, like repealing the individual mandate and the Trump administration’s restrictions on Medicaid. The administration’s utter failure to control the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to rising uninsured numbers, as people lose their jobs and essential workers are left without benefits.
According to health economist Emily Gee, While the pandemic has depressed economic activity this year in most industries, insurance companies’ profitability to date has topped last year’s, “and they will continue to increase profit if Trump follows through on his executive order to shift more Medicare beneficiaries into private plans.” Despite the recent losses in coverage, Trump still managed to move forward with an ACA Repeal Lawsuit and push through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. It’s been made clear that the Trump Administration values the health of the market over the health of the people, and a lot of work must be done to reverse the harm they have done.
President-elect Biden has made improving the nation’s health care system a priority for his incoming administration. He has promised to build on the Affordable Care Act by giving every American access to affordable health insurance, creating a more accessible and less complex system, lowering prescription drug costs, and emphasizing health care as a human right. Biden’s plan offers hope for the millions of vulnerable Americans and health care advocates who have been fighting for comprehensive, life-saving coverage.
According to the Pew Research Center, health care was the second-most important issue to voters in the 2020 election, and it’s essential for these healthcare voters to continue their advocacy during the Biden Administration. While Biden’s plan certainly seems like it will move the health care system in a forward-moving, positive direction, we must hold the new administration accountable to guarantee that while we increase access to care, we are also addressing and eliminating health care disparities, especially in communities of color.
The lives lost to COVID-19 and health care disparities in the U.S. show that we have waited far too long for health care justice. During this political transition period and Advent season, we must continue to hope and pray that the wait ends with the incoming administration. We can use this time to recharge and renew our spirits so that when the time comes, we are ready to keep fighting for equitable health care for all people.