An online petition to end healthcare subsidies for members Congress has reached 400,000 signatures amid the ongoing debate over healthcare in America.
The Change.org petition was started by Daniel Jimenez from Portland whose father passed away from cancer a number of years ago. Although his father was employed, he was not covered by health insurance.
In writing the petition, Jimenez described how some politicians “cannot relate to the cost burden experienced by families across the nation because they’ve historically received health benefits that most Americans have not.”
“As Congress and President Trump try to pass a new healthcare law,” he writes, “I’m reminded of my father and whether he would have made it if he had early access to cost-effective healthcare… If Congress is willing to drastically cut healthcare subsidies for most people, are they willing to have the same rules apply to them and their families?”
Currently, under the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), members of Congress and their staff can only obtain health insurance coverage under plans created by the ACA. Prior to the ACA, Congress staff chose their insurance option from a free marketplace of over 300 private providers.
Republicans, however, in proposing a replacement plan to the ACA called the American Health Care Act (AHCA), may resume the pre-ACA arrangement for themselves while raising premiums for everyone else and, according to critics, leaving 24 million more Americans without health insurance altogether.
Speaking to Oregon Live about the success of his petition, Jimenez said, “An interesting fact is that people from both sides of the political spectrum seem to agree with me about Congress not receiving any special treatment that regular people do not have.”
Once the petition receives 500,000 signatures, it will be presented to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and President Donald Trump. As it spreads on social media and gains greater attention, momentum is only quickening. It may not be long before the target is reached.
While surprised by the response, Jimenez told reporters that he is not feeling optimistic that it will make a difference: “Honestly, even if the petition gathered 5 million signatures, I don’t think members of Congress would do something as drastic as that.”