As a nurse, a mother and a woman, I’m extremely concerned about efforts to repeal or diminish health care coverage. Coverage for women is especially important during the coronavirus pandemic. Fifty-two percent of all essential workers are women, and I am part of that group. We are on the front lines of responding to the crisis as health care workers, and in other essential jobs. We are therefore more likely to be exposed to the coronavirus. For so many in this country this crisis has been painfully and permanently traumatic.
Women make up 77 percent of all healthcare workers. According to the New York Times, “Women make up nearly nine out of 10 nurses and nursing assistants, most respiratory therapists, a majority of pharmacists and an overwhelming majority of pharmacy aides and technicians.” In Mid-June, National Nurses United reported Covid-Related Deaths Among Health Care Workers. “The nation’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, puts the total much higher: 939 fatalities among health-care workers, based on reports from its chapters around the country, social media and obituaries.
Nurses represent about 15 percent of those deaths, the union said.” An April CDC report found that women accounted For 73 percent of infections among health care workers. “This is reflected in another grim statistic: While male doctors and nurses have died on the front lines, a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that women account for 73 percent of the U.S. health care workers who have been infected since the outbreak began.”
We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions.
Is repealing the ACA a good way of honoring the “heroes” we have all been proud to support–by giving us sicker and sicker patients due to a lack of health care services, with fewer resources and poorer outcomes? Is this the America you want to live in-where we deprive more of our heroes of adequate health care?