Guest Commentary

Alice Allen: Sen. Blunt, please don’t take my brother’s lifeline

Alice Allen’s brother depends on the Affordable Care Act as he deals with throat cancer.
Alice Allen’s brother depends on the Affordable Care Act as he deals with throat cancer. AP

My name is Alice Allen. I am a home health aide, a great-grandmother and a devoted sister. And recently I have become an activist as well. I’ve joined in protests and even have been arrested because the stakes are too high for me to politely sit on the sidelines. I’m fighting for my brother’s life — and the lives of millions more who could be jeopardized if President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill allies like U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt gut the Affordable Care Act.

When my brother was diagnosed with throat cancer, he became uninsurable. It was a struggle to get him the care he needed, and we had to stretch every dollar we had to narrowly avoid bankruptcy. What saved my brother and my family’s finances was the Affordable Care Act. The ACA allowed my brother to get insured by making health care more affordable while preventing big insurance companies from denying my brother care because of his pre-existing condition.

The ACA has given us — and millions like us — peace of mind, stability and financial security. And now it’s under attack. The president and Republican senators like our own Roy Blunt want to “repeal and replace” the ACA. The only public plan offered by Republicans in Congress so far would give the wealthiest Americans a huge tax cut and take health care away from as many as 24 million Americans, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis. It would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to those who let their insurance lapse. But even this terrible plan may not be enough to satisfy far-right Republicans. Recently, Blunt admitted that the plan may lack enough support to pass through Congress.

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Meanwhile, all this Republican grandstanding over health care is putting coverage for 500,000 Missourians like my brother at risk. And if Republicans kill Medicaid, they’ll be killing jobs. Repealing the ACA would cost 48,000 Missouri workers — including 15,000 health care workers like me — the jobs we need to put food on the table.

Trump and Blunt are playing politics with people’s lives. For me, this is personal. If my brother’s insurance were taken away, it would be a matter of life and death. So I’m treating it like one.

Recently, I made my second trip to Washington, D.C., to confront Blunt. I joined a sit-in with 46 other protesters in the Capitol building and refused to leave until Republican leaders told us what their plan for replacing the ACA while preserving our care looked like. I’ve never felt as proud as I did when the Capitol Police clicked the handcuffs around my wrists and hauled me and my fellow protesters off to jail.

Whether it’s in the halls of Capitol Hill or when they come back to big protests at events in their home states, Washington politicians like Blunt are getting just a taste of the anger boiling in America over their reckless grandstanding about health care. If they’re bent on wrecking the law that has saved our lives and livelihoods, they need to present a plan that lets us keep the coverage we need to survive.

To Blunt, our message is simple: We urge you to consider the human lives at stake in the fight over the Affordable Care Act, and do your part to ensure that all Americans remain insured.

Congress must show us a plan to keep everyone covered before voting to take away the health care we count on. The lives of my brother and hundreds of thousands of Missourians are in your hands.

Alice Allen is a 61-year-old great-grandmother and home health aide from St. Louis.

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