Reposted with permission from Children’s Defense Fund—Texas
On Wednesday, September 5, Texas and 19 other states are going to federal court in an effort to end health care protections for millions of people, including the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, genetic conditions, depression, and even pregnancy).
Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act may have stopped in Congress for the time being, but the Trump administration continues to undermine the ACA in many ways. This time it’s getting help from the attorneys general and governors of 20 states, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
The ACA’s pre-existing condition protection — the guarantee that you can’t be denied coverage or charged more due to something in your medical history — is one of the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, but this protection is now at risk. A new bill introduced in Congress has been pitched as saving pre-existing condition coverage, but it would allow insurance companies to exclude medical care for your pre-existing conditions, even though you could still technically buy a policy, essentially denying meaningful coverage. The legislation also does not address any of the other protections listed below that are also at risk.
You may be wondering WHAT CAN I DO? One thing you can do is to write a letter to the editor (LTE) to your local paper this week. It may not get published, but if a LOT of people write on the same issue, there’s a good chance some of those letters will get published.
The court case is quickly approaching on September 5th. We need thousands of Letters to the Editor to go to local newspapers in Texas and the other 19 states (see below) included in the lawsuit to raise mass awareness about what is at stake.
Most papers limit the length of LTEs to 150-250 words. You can usually find the guidelines and a submission portal or email address on the Opinion page of your local paper’s website. If you are feeling very motivated and have a lot to say, consider extending your letter into an op-ed, which has a more generous 600-700 word limit.
This is a sample personal letter to the editor on what losing pre-existing condition protections would mean to a Texan. Feel free to use it to help you craft your own. This letter includes elements that are common to successful LTEs:
- Facts to build an argument
- An emotional hook to pull the reader in
- A call to action to those in power & our fellow citizens
Like more than a quarter of Texans, I have a pre-existing condition. Like many Texans, I’m self-employed. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act I now have insurance coverage and can’t be denied insurance or dropped from my plan because of my family history of colon cancer. If Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit succeeds, millions of people like me will go back to a time when we lived without health insurance and in fear of going to the doctor.
In 2013 I celebrated my fortieth birthday. It was a birthday I dreaded because of the word associated with it: colonoscopy. As my grandmother of blessed memory got older, she had several colon cancer scares. Thanks to Medicare and rigorous screening, she avoided developing cancer. Colonoscopies probably saved her life.
Without the protection of health insurance, people like me wouldn’t be able to get the potentially life-saving preventive care we need to stay healthy.
My fortieth birthday present wasn’t glamorous. But it was a gift nonetheless because I was able to get the screening and treatment I needed. If Paxton’s lawsuit is successful, the millions of Texans like me who have pre-existing conditions may not be so lucky.
Need more inspiration for your letter to the editor? The following protections are at risk in the lawsuit:
- Allowing children to remain on their parents insurance until age 26.
- Free annual preventive care, like mammograms, flu shots, and pediatric visits could no longer be covered.
- Women could once again be charged more for insurance just for being women.
- The ban on annual and lifetime coverage limits could be overturned. Insurance plans could limit how much they will cover each year or in total.
- The limit on out-of-pocket costs (what you pay for coverage after you’ve paid your premiums) could be overturned.
- Tax credits that help people pay for health insurance) could be eliminated.
- Medicaid expansion covering 12 million people could be eliminated.
Overall, 180 million people who get insurance through an employer or purchase an individual plan on their own could lose these important protections if the lawsuit is successful.
The following states are party to the lawsuit:
- TEXAS and
- PAUL LePAGE, Governor of Maine
- MISSISSIPPI, by and through Governor Phil Bryant
- NORTH DAKOTA
- SOUTH CAROLINA
- SOUTH DAKOTA
- WEST VIRGINIA
Letter to the Editor links for Texas dailies:
Edited letters typically address a single idea and do not exceed 150 words.
San Antonio Express-News
No hard word limit, but “shorter is better.” More details here:
Max. 250 words. More details here (scroll to the bottom):
Dallas Morning News
Max. 200 words
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Max. 200 words
El Paso Times
Max. 225 words
Max. 300 words (very generous!)
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
No word limit stated
Max. 300 words
Lubbock Avalanche Journal
Max. 250-300 words