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Alyssa Milano: Time to End the Partisan Politics Around Health Care (Guest Column)

My past year advocating for health care for Americans has taught me a number of things.

One that rings true then, and now: medical emergencies do not discriminate based on party affiliation.

Chronic illnesses and pre-existing conditions do not have a political ideology. And Americans from all walks of life can experience the personal and economic consequences of health care — and these impacts are made exponentially worse when we are denied our access to health insurance.

So why do Republicans in Congress and the White House continue scheming behind closed doors to eliminate coverage for millions? To enrich their wealthy donors, and give billions in tax cuts to the same pharmaceutical companies who continue to gouge prices for consumers regardless of the devastating consequences.

Americans’ health care is worth more than partisan politicking for massive donations.

In 2017, more than 3 million Americans lost their access to health coverage — and the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are directly responsible.

From bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act that would have stripped as many as 32 million Americans of their insurance, to allowing states to enforce work requirements or lifetime limits for Medicaid, the GOP has ignored the public’s loud outcry as they continue to find ways to strip away health coverage.

That’s why, nearly eight years after its passage — and one year after the GOP introduced the disastrous American Health Care Act  — I’ve spent time reflecting on the importance of this landmark law in expanding access to quality, affordable health care. After near-constant attacks by Republicans in Congress, and continued efforts by the Trump administration to undermine it, the ACA’s continued survival is reason to celebrate — but it is also a call to action.

Over the last year, the President and Congressional Republicans have relentlessly attacked Americans’ access to health care — and their war on health care will not stop unless the American people continue speaking out, fight back, and tell their stories.

People from all across the country and from all political persuasions have taken action against Republicans’ sabotage. But we need people to continue sharing their personal health care stories — so that the Republican representatives who voted to strip your care hear your voices and know that you will turn them into votes.

From Brandi Anderson, a mother in Nevada who pleaded with Senator Dean Heller to vote against repeal, to Dennis Wallace, a Republican barber in Tennessee who implored Donald Trump to end his sabotage of the law that saved his life, Democrats and Republicans and Independents have spoken out against attempts to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

From health care advocates like Ady Barkan and Laura Packard, patients have spoken out against attempts to end their access to affordable health care or eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

From Elena Hung, co-founder of the Little Lobbyists, and Steve Gomez, a father from Arizona, parents have spoken out for their children with complex medical needs and fought against attempts to establish lifetime limits on insurance, cuts to Medicare, and failures to re-authorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Each of these people, as health care voters, have changed the conversation about the ACA by focusing on their stories, on the personal impact undermining their access to health insurance will have on their families.

In the 2018 midterm elections, health care remains a top issue for voters. By continuing to show our elected officials that our lives are on the line, we will this November — so tell your story, show up, and keep fighting back.

Alyssa Milano is an actor, activist and a co-chair of the Health Care Voter campaign. If you would like to share your health care story, visit OurLivesOurStories.com.

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