West Virginians fight to save everyone’s healthcare
Photo courtesy of West Virginia Indivisible

Even in the traditionally Republican small city of Wheeling in the so-called red state of West Virginia, people have organized in the fight to save the hard-won coverage gained through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act [ACA] (or Obamacare). Dozens of citizens answered the call from progressive grassroots organizing campaign Move Indivisible to rally the public to call their Congressional representatives and Senators and urge them to vote against proposed severe cuts in people’s healthcare while giving the rich and insurance companies a whopping $600 billion windfall tax break.

Move Indivisible activists assembled mid-day in Wheeling’s busy Center Market on Thursday, 26 June where they took up posts to handbill pedestrians, hold up signs to passing cars, and talk to anyone who would listen in the market area. They urged everyone to call their Senators and Congresspersons from West Virginia and Ohio to save the nation’s healthcare.

In addition to organizing the phone campaign, they sought to educate the public on the effects of repealing the ACA and replacing it with the latest draconian GOP health-could-care-less legislation. The Move Indivisible brochures listed the following benefits that insurance companies will no longer be required to provide under the Trump-McConnell plan: Ambulatory patient services, emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, behavioral health services, rehabilitative services and devices, laboratory services, preventative and wellness services, chronic disease management, and pediatric services (including oral and vision care for children).

The Move brochure pointed out that taking away the above-listed benefits would only be the beginning of worse things to come. Should the backroom-created McConnell Plan be enacted; women will pay more than men for insurance coverage, Medicaid will be cut by $834 million, and there will be higher out-of-pocket costs for less coverage. And while the McConnell-Trump Plan puts the screws to regular people, it will give insurance companies and the rich a $600 billion tax break.

So what are the overall changes the American people can expect should the McConnell-Trump Couldn’t-Care-Less Plan become law? Employers would no longer be required to insure employees; there will be no out-of-pocket assistance. The Medicaid expansion would freeze; states could deny citizens coverage based on age and health; tens of millions would be left without affordable healthcare. The pre-ACA lifetime and annual caps will return; 23 million Americans would be left without insurance altogether by 2026; deductibles would increase by $1,500, and protection for pre-existing conditions will no longer be guaranteed.

As a sop to the Republican base’s Right-to-Life-Until-Birth faction, McConnell’s backroom Trump-Care bill takes another shot at working-class women and their health by defunding Planned Parenthood. This would deny women and infants such life-saving services as pre-natal care and cancer screening. Planned Parenthood has long been a target of the extreme right as well as certain religious fanatics.

From its inception in the early twentieth century, Planned Parenthood and its founder Margaret Sanger were attacked back then for merely trying to provide women with birth control information. The fact that Planned Parenthood does not provide abortions has not prevented the extreme right from using abortion-baiting to rally antagonism against that organization, which is so vital to the health of working class women and children.

In our campaign to stop the extreme right agenda against workers, women, minorities, civil rights, and the poor; the fight to save gains by the people in healthcare under President Obama is only one of many battles we must fight but it is probably the most crucial one immediately facing us. Why wait until our healthcare is gone to appreciate what we have? Join the fight now! Start by calling and/or writing your Congressperson and Senators today; continue by joining and organizing others in the struggle.


John Milam
John Milam

John Milam has been an activist most of his adult life in unions, community action groups and anti-war groups. He worked as an organizer and servicing staff representative at District 50, UMWA, which later merged with the United Steelworkers. As a Steelworker, he became a Key Staff Rep. for Area 1 (Wheeling-Steubenville) of the old USWA District 23. Milam writes on issues and events that affect miners and steelworkers for Peoplesworld.org.