The Trump presidency has ushered in an era where it seems the only constant is there is no telling what’s going to happen next. Yet the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by the House and the Administration’s recently released 2018 budget tells us exactly what they would like to see happen: massive cuts to Medicaid and other health care programs; huge reductions in funding for HIV/AIDS—including slashing $59 million from the Ryan White Program—as well as hepatitis C, and STD prevention; cuts to other social safety net programs, including Meals on Wheels, Social Security Disability Insurance, subsidized housing, family planning centers, and more.
The budget the Trump administration is also proposing creates a major restructuring of Medicaid, capping federal spending in the program for the first time ever to achieve a savings more $610 billion over the next decade. Combined with congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the budget would strip health coverage from more than 24 million people nationwide. In California alone, some 6 million stand to lose access to coverage and care.
APLA Health and many other health centers and HIV support organizations cannot simply raise funds to cover the money that would be lost if these cuts happen. Many of them would be forced to turn the people who need them most away.
That is exactly why APLA Health took part in the Resist March on Sunday, June 11, the centerpiece of Los Angeles’ Pride weekend. The Resist March coincided with the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., as well as marches, rallies, and demonstrations in more than 50 other cities across the country. As a federally qualified health center that specializes in care for low-income LGBTQ individuals and that offers HIV support services, these cuts would erase the hard-fought gains we’ve made over the last seven years to improve the health and lives of so many.
When APLA Health first opened its doors in 1983, we helped people with AIDS die with dignity. Today, we have continued the fight against HIV by providing free and low-cost health care services to the entire LGBTQ community and support services that help those living with HIV thrive. Healthier people mean healthier communities and a healthier country. It means battling successfully against poverty, stigma, and discrimination.
We marched on June 11 to say that our future should include health care access for everyone and an end to HIV/AIDS. We marched to make our voices heard, loud and clear, alongside our friends, families, and allies. We marched because health care is a human right and not a privilege and to demand that these inhumane cuts not take place.
Now we need to continue the movement of the march. We need to reach out to our Senators and have our stories told. We need to reach out and hold hands with our neighboring states and have our stories heard. We must continue to reach out and educate.