Mayor Mark Holland, of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, didn’t mince words last month as he launched a campaign to make it easy for residents to voice their support for the Affordable Care Act.
“This is life and death,” he said during a Feb. 22 event at City Hall attended by more than 50 health advocates. “People deserve health coverage. This isn’t something the wealthy deserve. This is something everyone deserves.”
Mayor Holland was one of nearly 100 mayors across the United States participating in a “Day of Action” to support the ACA, which is under threat of repeal in Congress. But Mayor Holland stressed that one day of action is not enough. To that end, he announced the launch of a letter-writing
campaign to help residents of Kansas’ Third Congressional District contact their elected officials: Senators Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, and Rep. Kevin Yoder.
“The ACA is under duress,” he said. “We need to be sure we bring our voices to our federal representatives.”
Other health advocates who spoke at the event stressed that the ACA had helped Wyandotte County take big steps toward becoming a healthier community. With the highest rate of uninsured residents in the state, they said, it’s critical that we find ways to give residents access to quality health care. And it’s especially important to give them access to services that will help prevent diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
Jerry Jones, Executive Director of the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, said that 6,000 Wyandotte County families had gained health insurance through the ACA. These newly insured residents now have access to prescription drugs and services to help them navigate a complicated health system. “A change in insurance status would be devastating to those families,” Jones said.
Irene Caudillo, President of El Centro Inc., said that the ACA had given many in the county’s Latino population greater health security. “Latinos are the largest group of uninsured,” she said. “That should be a concern for our community…Health should not be denied to people simply because of the color of their skin or their socio-economic status.”
Broderick Crawford, a health consumer who directs the NBC Community Development Corporation, said the ACA had given him access to services that help prevent diabetes. “This letter writing campaign is not only important, it’s critical,” Crawford said. “Lives will be impacted if the ACA is repealed.”
Since the event, Congress has begun debate on a bill that aims to preserve some of the more popular provisions of the ACA, such as preventing insurance companies from barring people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26. However, citing estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that predict millions more would be left without insurance, a number of health advocates have said the plan falls far short of providing affordable and quality healthcare, especially to the nation’s poorest residents.
February 24, 2017 Story by Mark Wiebe, Communications Strategist, Heathy Communities Wyandotte Photo by Matt Kleinmann, Doctoral Student | University of Kansas, School of Architecture, Design and Planning