The Republican-led House passed a brutal bill that eviscerates the Affordable Care Act and puts the health of the Latino community at risk. Latinos now have a rare opportunity to fight back and change the face of Congress in 2018.
How representative is the group deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans and one-sixth of our nation's economy? If a picture is worth a thousand words, take a look at the celebration of the bill's passage. President Donald Trump congratulated Republican House members in the Rose Garden in the whitest photo-op since Vice President Mike Pence's famous selfie.
And how bad is this bill itself, which should really be called what it is, a tax cut for the rich? In a rare show of unity, the major groups in this country that represent hospitals, doctors, health insurers and consumer groups stand together in opposition to a bad bill shoved down the throats of the American people.
For Latinos, the violence of this bill cannot be understated. No other minority group is less likely to be insured than Hispanics. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, almost 40 percent of U.S.-born Latinos did not have health insurance. After Obama's signature legislation, the number dropped to 29 percent, according to the Commonwealth Fund Affordable Care Act tracking survey.
In fact, the Latino community experienced the largest decline in uninsured rates of any ethnic group since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. Now, Latinos are poised to suffer the greatest should the House bill pass the U.S. Senate.
Latino children will bear the greatest cost if this draconian bill ever becomes law. Over half of our Hispanic kids receive their health care through Medicaid, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But this bill slashes Medicaid, and analysts predict over 24 million Americans will lose this kind of coverage.
As if this were not enough, Republicans have reportedly included an amendment to the bill that allows states to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions that include victims of sexual assault.
Despite the damage this bill will do, Latinos have an opportunity to respond and put a number of Trumpcare voters into retirement. For instance, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) was elected in a district that President Trump won by just 1.7 percent. Latinos make up over 50 percent of his district, and Cuban American support Republican legislators has been waning for years. His colleague, Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (who voted against the bill) has already announced that she will not run for office again in 2018. Latinos in her district make up over 57 percent of eligible voters.
Another Trumpcare voter, Carlos Curbelo of Florida's 26th District, was elected despite Trump losing by over 16 percent.
In all, two dozen Republicans in the House of Representatives put their seats at risk with their vote for Trumpcare, according to the DailyKos website, and Latinos can help ensure they do lose their seats.
David Valadao of California represents a district where almost 40 percent of eligible voters are Latino. President Trump lost Valadao's district by over 15 percent. Jeff Denham (CA-10) represents a district where over a quarter of eligible voters are Latino. Donald Trump lost Denham's district by 3 percent. Martha McSally in Arizona won in a district where Donald Trump lost by almost 5 percent to Hillary Clinton. McSally's district is over 20 percent Latino eligible voters.
The vote by Republicans to strip health care from millions of Americans should come at a price.
Latinos have an opportunity to make sure they do.