Anthony is small for his age, but if you knew what he’d been through it wouldn’t matter – he’s still here. In his short life so far, he’s already had an arterial switch, went through heart failure, was placed on life support and received a heart transplant. That was all in his first six weeks. When I talked to his father, Steve Gomez in front of the White House, Anthony was in his hands squirming. For a kid his age he was small, but full of life, attentive and grinning. Anthony wears coke bottle glasses with thick frames that makes his already beaming eyes even larger.
His father is more resilient than I could imagine being after all this. It’s amazing that he hasn’t retreated after this struggle. Instead, he took to the stage at the Our Lives On The Line rally in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday. Steve was one of the half dozen people that spoke about their life changing experiences with health care after the ACA was passed.
Their voices counter a narrative that is being pushed by the Trump administration – even using money that is meant to promote signup periods for the ACA/Obamacare. Currently nine videos, made and paid for with tax dollars on the Health & Human Services YouTube page are meant to “expose” the bad that Obamacare is doing. The YouTube playlist is even called “Families Burdened by Obamacare” and have the HHS logo in the top right hand corner. Not surprisingly, the comments are disabled and most of them only have a couple hundred views.
If a YouTube playlist with a couple hundred views was the only thing, then it might not be that bad. But, there’s also Fox News and the president using his twitter account with over 34 million followers to attack the program. In interviews, tweets and speeches, Trump continually is undermining it to Americans and the insurance companies involved in it, telling every one listening that he would let “Obamacare explode” now that the voting is over. Much like his current military actions in the Middle East – Trump doesn’t care much about the collateral damage.
I asked Steve Gomez what he thought about Trump’s sentiments. Here’s what he had to say:
“First, it’s sabotage. To let Obamacare die with everything that the GOP’s already done is nothing short of sabotaging a piece of legislation that’s already there… to let Obamacare die on a personal level endangers my son as well as thousands of, if not millions of other families across the country. Those that are strapped with having to make the decision of utility bills, way of life or health care… and that’s just unfair. That’s not something that should have to be a choice for anyone.”
While most families immediately start worrying about how they’ll pay for their kids’ college – Steve and his wife, Laura would not have been able to afford Anthony’s first couple weeks of life without Obamacare. The hospital bill was in the millions.
Trump has previously been quoted saying that insurance only costs $12 a year. Many have guessed that Trump believes that the Gerber life insurance policy often advertised on Fox News is what he was thinking of… showing that the man has little connection with reality when it comes to health care.
While most of the speakers stayed out of politics, the final person on stage, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, had no way of doing so. Taking a celebratory tone, she reminded the audience which party stood against the repeal of Obamacare:
“It’s important to know that 100% of the Democrats, House and Senate were there. And that for some of those members that this was as difficult a vote as it was for Senator Murkowski, Senator Collins and Senator McCain. So take a day to say thanks – but get right back on the line to the Republicans – because this should not be partisan.”
Sadly, it is partisan – and the victory is temporary.
Now that the initial battle has been won (or at least not lost), the Republicans have thrown the ball to the Democrats – who seem to at least have some ideas for fixing the ACA that don’t include destroying it.
One thing that I can say will happen for certain: The 800 or so Americans that marched to the White House Saturday will make sure that both sides keep working on it, and not repealing or replacing it. Whether in wheel chairs, strollers or under the power of their own two feet, they will keep marching.