In the middle of the night, under cover of darkness, Republicans in the U.S. senate approved a disastrous tax bill, crafted in secret back rooms that will give large tax cuts to the wealthiest of Americans, like Donald Trump and his family; ballooned the national deficit, threatened health care coverage for 13 million men, women, and children; and increased taxes for middle and working-class families.
Here’s what this bill will do:
- Undermine the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) by removing the ACA’s requirement that everyone have health coverage. This will cause insurance premiums to increase and become unaffordable for millions of Americans. Black America will be particularly affected by this, as many Black Americans were only able to get healthcare recently because of the ACA.
- Lead to massive cuts over the long term in health and social programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and Ryan White by adding an estimated $1 trillion to the national debt. This will leave millions of Black Americans without access to healthcare, especially preventive care.
- Worsen income inequality by increasing taxes on tens of millions of working and middle-class Americans while providing a windfall to corporations and the top 1%. Families will have to make the hard choice between paying for healthcare and paying for other necessities.
Now, they are trying to convince us that they didn’t do what they did, and if they did, there is nothing we can do about it, anyway. But, if we’ve learned nothing else over the thirty-five plus years of fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the last ten plus months of the Trump administration, we should have learned that “it is not over until it is over”.
Opinion polls have shown that this tax legislation is opposed by the vast majority of the American people, yet the Republican majority has rammed the bill through – without hearings, without testimony from economic experts, and without input from the communities that will be most injured, including people living with HIV and Black America as a whole.
This fight isn’t over. Call your representatives in the Congress and Senate using the United States Capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected. Tell them that both the House and Senate tax reform proposals are unacceptable and that you want them to protect the individual mandate, which requires everyone to have health insurance. Tell them why having health insurance is so important to you.
If either version of this bill becomes law, most of the recent gains made in healthcare access, especially in Black America, will be rolled back. And we will lose all chances of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our life time.
The Black AIDS Institute has been busy fighting this fight on every front imaginable. On World AIDS Day last week, we launched a new website. This week, we are rolling out our new template for the Black AIDS Weekly. We hope you like. Both are designed to make it easier for you to navigate and get the information you need. We finished our 27-city tour with Grammy nominated Neo-Soul artists Ledisi in Norfolk and Richmond Virginia (If you haven’t seen it yet, pick up a copy of the December issue of A&U Magazine with our very own Black AIDS Institute Ambassador, Ledisi on the cover). We took our Demand Access national Town hall meeting and open enrollment sessions to Washington D.C., Norfolk, and Richmond Virginia, and Baltimore Maryland. Next up is Chicago. One of the most important ways you can resist the Trump Administrations attempts to sabotage ObamaCare/ACA is to sign up for comprehensive and affordable health Insurance on the ACA health exchanges and to make sure everyone one you know signs up as well. Time is running out. The open enrollment period ends on December 15th. Anyone who is not enrolled by them with be shut out of the program. Don’t let all the scare tactics work. The ACA is still there to help our community get access to the healthcare they need and deserve.
In this issue, learn more about NASTAD’s new website PrEPcost.org, it’s online health-plan locator that helps PrEP users or navigators identify and compare the access to PrEP offered by various health insurance plans.
Insurance companies have begun to market limited-benefit health insurance plans being for as little as $93 a month designed to help people avoid penalties. Read why experts are warning consumers to be cautious.
Journalist and AIDS activist George M. Johnson writes about the plusses and minuses that he’s experienced as a result of coming out as queer and HIV positive.
Research shows that elderly Black Americans are not participating in clinical trials, a fact that calls into question whether they are getting the good cancer treatment they deserve. Learn why clinical trials are so important And HHS public health advisor Nathan Fecik writes about the experience of testing HIV-negative and going on PrEP and staying negative.
Finally, if you are purchasing health insurance in the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, you have just 9 days left to do so. The last day you can purchase health insurance there is December 15, 2017. With the Trump administration doing everything it can to sabotage Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, we urge you not to wait until the last minute to enroll.
Yours in the struggle,