OP-ED: This election, health care is on the ballot

Eugene DePasquale
West Manchester Township
Democratic congressional candidate Eugene DePasquale, of North York borough, tours businesses in York City, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Over nearly eight months, our community and the country have grappled with the tragic effects of COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout. Since March, we’ve lost over 220,000 loved ones; parents and siblings, friends and neighbors — every single one an immeasurable loss.

We now face a second wave of infections. The number of cases is rising rapidly and public health experts warn that the winter will be the most difficult period of the pandemic, with families forced indoors as the weather turns. 

The initial wave of COVID-19 provided a stark reminder that access to health care can often mean the difference between life and death. While imperfect, the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions and expansion of health insurance to millions of American who wouldn’t otherwise have it, saved countless lives.

What the current public health crisis should teach us is that we must do more to expand access to affordable health care, not take it away, but that is exactly what my opponent Congressman Scott Perry has vowed to do.

Congressman Perry voted 12 times in Washington to repeal the Affordable Care Act, taking health care away from millions with no plan to replace it. Now that those efforts have failed, he is supporting a lawsuit that will be before the Supreme Count a week after the election that could kick 42,000 residents of our district off of their health insurance and eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions.

You would hope that the events of the past months would cause the congressman to reconsider, but during our last televised debate he reiterated his support for taking health care away from tens of thousands of members of our community. When asked if he hoped the Supreme Court would strike down the Affordable Care Act, including its protections for pre-existing conditions and Medicaid expansion, he replied, “I do.”

That’s just dead wrong. 

Our representative in Washington should be fighting for us, not against us. If elected, I will work day in and day out to keep our community healthy and safe. In Congress, I’ll support legislation to strengthen the ACA with a public option that provides an affordable, quality health insurance option for all Americans. I will protect people’s right to keep their private insurance if they like it and stand up to anyone who tries to end critical protections for pre-existing conditions.

This fight for me is personal. I watched my brother Anthony suffer from the effects of muscular dystrophy, a disease that would cost him his life at the age of 20. I saw my family struggle with the cost of medical care because insurers deemed Anthony’s condition a pre-existing condition and refused to insure him, and I felt my parents' pain when they lost a son and were left in financial tatters from medical bills.

No family should have to lose their financial security to provide care for a loved one, and in these uncertain times, back-breaking medical bills should not add to the challenges Americans face.

This election, health care is on the ballot. We will decide whether access to health care is a reality for all of us, or a privilege enjoyed by those who can afford it. I ask for your vote, and if I have the honor of serving this community in Congress, you have my word that I will work every day to make sure every single American family has access to the care they need and deserve.

— Eugene DePasquale is Pennsylvania's auditor general and the Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District.