Home Opinion Health, Housing, and the Fight for Basic Human Rights

Health, Housing, and the Fight for Basic Human Rights

State Sen. Lena Taylor

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about the things that make our country great, and just as importantly the things that don’t. Although I’ve had doubts about the direction we’re going in, and past decisions we’ve made, I’ve always looked back on certain moments in our country’s history as particularly telling that we, as a country, and as a people, truly care for and love one another.

One of those moments was the passage of the Affordable Care Act. President Obama’s sweeping health care reform, saved the lives of an estimated 50,000 patients between 2010 and 2013 according to one study. Talks about healthcare reform can seem overly complicated at times, but to be clear, for many Americans, it’s literally life or death. And if someone has to face that decision, how can we call ourselves great? Well, in Kentucky, that’s becoming the reality for many people.

Over the summer, Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin moved forward with Medicaid reform aimed at creating barriers to health care for nearly half a million people, and in five years’ time, 95,000 of them could lose coverage entirely. One part of the reform includes removing basic vision and dental coverage, and replacing it with a points-based rewards system. I’m sorry, but when did sight and the ability to eat and or speak become a reward? With the support of this administration, Governor Bevin’s reforms have gained traction, adding Kentucky to a growing list of states whose governments are turning the sick away based on the mere fact that they don’t have the means. Sound familiar? It should.

Over the spring, Governor Walker introduced his own legislation aimed at building barriers to significantly reduce the number of individuals currently qualifying for public assistance. In Walker’s case, a concerningly high number of those affected would be children and senior citizens. Apparently, they also have to “earn” their basic human rights, in this case, that means a roof over one’s head and a full stomach are at stake. When was it that this became the norm?

These are attacks on our rights and on the fundamental ideals this country was built on, so the question we have to ask ourselves now, is what can we do to make a difference? And despite what you might think, you’ve got a choice when it comes to the direction our country goes in. That’s a choice you’ll get to make this fall, one you make at the ballot boxes. But, it’s also a choice you make every day, because above all else, providing others with health care and support is about caring. And letting the people in your life know that you care is something you can do every day.