Children VS Rich White Men: What Pushed Me to Call Arizona Senators.


In A Rush?

  • The thirteen Senators, hiding their health care bill proposal, need to prioritize children’s health instead of the wealthy.
  • Several states, including my home turf, Arizona, rely heavily on Medicaid funding. Time to call McCain and Flake.
  • I feel like everything I write or pitch has something to do with how the GOP wants to mess with children’s health.

People commonly ask me why I chose to go into pediatrics.

Children didn’t do it to themselves.

My terse, usual response, is rooted in the fact that children are born into this world knowing how to poop, eat, sleep, and cry. They depend on us for preventive health, education, and resources. Every health policy decision we make  influences young children who have no choice but to live in the world we create for them, or destroy and leave them with.

This is precisely why I take the time to respectfully rumble with the anti-vaccine crowd, e-cigarette lobbyists, climate change deniers, opponents to gun control, and most recently, individuals who support the American Health Care Act and, indirectly, Medicaid cuts. (Yes, there are people who neatly feat in the middle of this anti-everything Venn diagram).

My most recent tangle involved a peachy, middle-aged, conservative in Arizona:

“Why exactly do you support the American Health Care Act?”

“Premiums are rising in Arizona. Thank God Trumps on it, haha!”

“Do you think the AHCA is going to solve that?”

“Hah, premiums went up over 100% under Obamacare.”

“That didn’t answer the question but regardless, with the AHCA, we may see higher premiums with fewer folks insured.”

“I’m just saying our premiums are sky high.”

I feel like I was trying to argue with a Tickle-Me-Elmo that only spat out robotic, manufactured endorsements of the AHCA.

But what’s eating at me is that thirteen senators, meeting in secret, may skirt by without much opposition thanks to such blindly-faithful constituents, who are inadvertently supporting cuts to the services that help Arizona’s children. It’s a domino effect that’s going unchecked.

I tagged along with a close friend of mine to a panel discussion about Medicaid in downtown Phoenix, last week, put on by the coalition, Protect AZ Healthcare. During the session, a mother of a special-needs child spoke about how provisions from the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS is funded by Medicaid) helped her get her son the right medical care at the right time. That anecdote should supersede the empty rhetoric we hear from the rich white men leading this country.

But here’s the objective data you can’t argue with: More than 2 million Arizonans get insurance from AHCCCS, including 750,000 children and 190,000 low-income seniors. Moreover, 100% of foster children get their care from AHCCCS as well as 37% of children with disabilities and pre-existing health conditions. We can even play on the job promises and remind Arizonans that with Medicaid cuts, the state could see almost 62,000 jobs lost in one year. This is a far leap from any attempt to “Make Arizona Great Again.”

Anyone can google the preventive health services Medicaid provides in Arizona and read up on ways AHCCCS and CHIP (KidsCare) helps children miss fewer school days, have higher high school graduation rates, and grow up to be healthier, more successful adults who earn higher wages and pay more taxes. You really think it’ll be good for Arizona’s future to cut Medicaid funding? In this twisted version of Robin Hood, the pockets of rich individuals, corporations, and insurance providers are going to be filled at the expense of medical resources for children.

I had to call Arizona Senators McCain and Flake. After all, we can tweet, scream, petition, rally, march, and debate but at the end of the day, this is on them and should demand that Medicaid funding is protected. The fate of Arizona’s children’s health is being handled by men who are essentially marionettes for their party. In the words of Zach De La Rocha, from Rage Against the Machine, “we need to take the power back.”

If we can collectively convince team McCain and Flake to not vote on whatever sorry-excuse-for-a-bill those thirteen put forward, we can drop the possible votes from 52 to 50. Perhaps more. That’s a win for not only Arizona’s kids but little ones nationwide.

I’m laying this out for you. (Courtesy of Protect Arizona’s Healthcare).

Senator Flake

DC Office: (202) 224-4521

Email: Use this online form. Twitter: @JeffFlake

Senator McCain

DC Office: (202) 224-2235

Email: Use this online form. Twitter: @SenJohnMcCain

I called both and left messages. Repeat calls, tweets, and whatever else this manic pediatrician can do are to follow. You should do the same. Here’s an idea of what to say as promoted by Protect AZ Health:

“I’m calling to ask Senator McCain/Flake to vote NO on any bill that would cut Medicaid (also called AHCCCS, pronounced “access”) or repeal the ACA. Experts tell us that hundreds of thousands of Arizonans could lose health care, tens of thousands could lose their jobs and our economy could lose billions of dollars. Please insist that any fix or replacement to the ACA will ensure Arizona’s children, seniors, and people with disabilities are not worse off.  We’re counting on our Arizona Senators to stand up against the usual Washington tactics.”

I was tempted to say:

Really dude?

What’s My Point?

Not a day goes by where I don’t find myself frustrated by the reality that politics and special interest and disrupt public health. Arizona can’t afford Medicaid cuts and neither party should be endorsing them. Call your state senator and take control.