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Amputating Obamacare: It’s going to hurt

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The staff at Valley Community Healthcare in Southern California worry that a promised Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act would jeopardize the care offered to the 7,400 patients currently under the law. (Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News/TNS)
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The Republican approach to fix health care by getting rid of the Affordable Care Act is like amputating a limb without the instruments to close the wound. It’s irresponsible and poses a grave threat to public health.

California’s nurses have dedicated themselves whole-heartedly to the “Patient Protection” in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the face of Republican proposals that put health care for at least 20 million Americans at risk, including more than 90,000 San Franciscans, nurses are obliged to speak up for those we serve.

We won’t stand by while Republicans erase the gains we’ve made in prevention and allow chronic conditions to progress untreated. We won’t go back to a time when insurance companies and big pharma executives were the “death panels” who decided who shall live and who shall die.

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Nurses at San Francisco General Hospital are proud to offer world-class services to our diverse community. In our Level 1 trauma center, billionaires and homeless individuals are served alongside immigrants and transgender people. In our clinic named for a physician who used to work with the Black Panthers, nurses offer the same level of care to the rich and the poor.

By slashing care for the poor and working families and bestowing massive tax breaks on the rich, President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee the nation’s health care system, Tom Price, and the GOP Congress show their values stand in sharp contrast to our community.

Already, we are seeing the impact of the GOP’s hateful and divisive approach on our health care. A nurse from the pediatric clinic reported that an immigrant parent was afraid to bring in her child because she was afraid she might be deported. High school student interns interested in health careers reported being jeered with slurs like, “Go back to Mexico.”

Is it going to hurt to eliminate Obamacare? A nurse can confidently answer: Yes, it is going to hurt our communities, particularly women, people living on the street, nonwhites, immigrants, people living with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ people. A poll from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation shows the vast majority of Americans agree the ACA should not be repealed.

California’s nurses won’t let Congress harm our patients without a fight. We’re mobilizing to defend the ACA and protect our patients’ care. Join us by telling your member of Congress to fight for our health and maintain our progress in improving California’s health.

Sasha Cuttler, R.N., Ph.D. works at San Francisco General Hospital and is a member of SEIU Local 1021 and the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California Steering Committee.

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