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Karen Liao: A Privilege or Right

 

Photography, Text and Video by Karen Liao, Copyright 2018

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A Privilege or Right?

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In Trump’s America, access to healthcare is a privilege, not a right. This blunt statement is the baseline belief that underlies all of President Trump’s actions pertaining to healthcare. His attempts to pass the American Health Care Act for replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and recently signed executive order on October 12, 2017 are attacks on people’s right to healthcare. His efforts have huge impact on both access and quality of healthcare US residents may receive. With currently proposed plans, insurance companies may no longer need to offer the ACA’s ten essential benefits, which include maternity/newborn care, mental/behavioral health treatment, preventive care (screenings), prescriptions drugs, etc. Companies will also be able to charge those with pre-existing conditions higher premiums, tipping the balance of risk pools and essentially creating unaffordable insurances to be offered on the health insurance exchange. There will also be cuts in Medicaid spending starting in 2020 and reduction of ACA tax credits that provide healthcare cost subsidies for the low-income population. The CBO estimates that this will prevent around 22 million people from receiving health insurance. These cuts will also increase costs across the board, because it prevents at-risk populations from receiving preventive care and treatment for chronic diseases before progression to acute conditions requiring highly critical, expensive care. The proposed plans also allow insurance companies to charge seniors, who are at higher risk for chronic diseases and multiple morbidities, five times as much as younger Americans (it was limited to three times with the ACA). Finally, Planned Parenthood will be defunded, stripping Medicaid recipients that depend on the agency for routine checkups, family planning, and contraceptives.

Who are those that will be most negatively affected by Trump’s health policies? It will be the sickest and weakest populations in our society. As mentioned previously, these health policies will increase costs and decrease access to healthcare for those with chronic diseases, the elderly, and the low-income receiving subsidies or Medicaid expansion. The voices of these vulnerable populations deserve to be heard as decisions are being made on a political systems level. These patients, my patients, all have their own stories to share, and they want to be considered as more than numbers that Washington can casually toss around. My patients are those with chronic diseases, the elderly, and the low-income patients that all deserve their right to access to quality healthcare. Their lives in the hospital and outside of the hospital are vastly different from the rest of the world’s, and this should be shared so that everyone can better grasp what these patients need to face every day. With Trump’s policies, they would not be able to afford their current care. It’s easy to think about the newly proposed health policies in terms of tax cuts. But here are the reminders of the humanity and their experiences behind the numbers. With these stories and people in mind, we must remember—healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

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About The Author: Karen Liao is a Junior enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Karen Liao, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/karen-liao-homage-textures/

 

This entry was posted in Blog, Documentary, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Video, Women.

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