Santos García, of Hanford, held a photo of his granddaughter Kiara on his right hand as he spoke about Kiara’s family and how they could be affected if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
“They are part of millions of Californians who are covered by the Affordable Care Act and have good health care coverage,” García said of his granddaughter’s family. “It didn’t always used to be that way for them.”
García said his daughter and his son-in-law struggled for years to conceive a child and after they were able to obtain health coverage through Covered California, they received the medical help they needed to get pregnant, and then Kiara was born.
“This lovely child is now four years old and thriving,” he said.
García said his family is asking Congress that before they repeal and replace the ACA, that provisions be put in place that would guarantee that those who are already covered would not lose their health care plans.
García was among many Hanford residents who came out on March 9 to #Fight4OurHealth Coalition news conference outside Adventist Medical Center in Hanford to ask congressman David Valadao, R-Hanford to use his vote on the House floor to oppose the recently introduced GOP health bill that would have significant impact on millions of Californians who obtained health coverage through the ACA or are covered under Medi-Cal.
Yasmín Peled, northern California organizer with Health Access, said that millions of Medi-Cal funds that Adventist Health hospital gets are at risk with the GOP legislation to repeal and replace ACA.
“This is something that would devastate the hospital and this community,” Peled said.
The bill would reduce health care for 14.1 million Californians who count on Medi-Cal in the state and more than half of whom are children.
At the conference, other families like the Garcías shared their stories of how ACA allowed them to have healthcare coverage.
“We ask Congressman Valadao to support medical coverage for the families in his district,” García said, adding that in Valadao’s district alone there are approximately 156,000 children like his granddaughter that are covered by the ACA and Medi-Cal.
The 21st Congressional District represented by Valadao includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern counties.
As he continued to hold Kiara’s photo, García said to Valadao that he hopes “this puts a face to the people who are suffering and struggling to stay in the middle class and get good medical health coverage. We ask Congressman Valadao; do not take away health care coverage. There are other Kiaras in the community and we have to speak for them.
“She is our miracle baby,” García said.
Health advocates had said the bill, which was made public last week, could be detrimental for the health of millions of Californians as many millions of people would lose their healthcare, would pay more in health care premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, or would expect tax hikes.
The repeal of the ACA would affect five million Californians covered by ACA.
According to the Fight for Our Health Coalition, more than 99,000 adults in Valadao’s district have received care under the Medi-Cal expansion, and more than 110,000 people receive assistance from ACA.
“We represent thousands of people and we are not going to stop until Congressman David Valadao promises some of the provisions that are in the ACA are kept or that we improve the ACA without repealing it all together,” said Dillon Savory, political director for Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council.
Savory said Valadao is a nice person, but “nice doesn’t cut it when people are dying.”
In a statement released by Valadao on the GOP’s legislation to repeal and replace the ACA, he said the healthcare system in the United States was broken before the implementation of the ACA; however the ACA made it even worse.
“Possession of an insurance card does not necessarily equate to access to quality healthcare, a reality my constituents grapple with every day. That’s why we need to find a better solution,” Valadao said in his statement. “Our healthcare system is incredibly complex and any potential reforms must be thoughtfully considered. As I continue to review the recent proposal from House Republicans, ensuring my constituents have access to affordable, quality healthcare will remain my top priority.”