When I left the Navy, I was lucky enough to be provided health insurance as a veteran. Unfortunately, that was not the case for my parents. My father suffered from health complications due to his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam, and lost his health insurance. He had to drive all the way down to Mexico to receive his diabetes medication. My mother lived without health insurance for sixteen years before finally qualifying for Medicare.

I understand the impact of not having health insurance and how it feels for the millions of families who are fighting for insurance. No one should have to go through what my mom and dad did. Healthcare is a right, not a privilege. That’s why I support ensuring everyone has access to affordable health insurance.

Today millions of Americans live without quality health insurance just like my parents experienced. They live in constant fear of getting sick and going bankrupt because of the high costs. Many more fear that without the Affordable Care Act their pregnancy will be viewed as a pre-existing condition and they will not have medical coverage. The passage of the Affordable Care Act saved lives by expanding health insurance to millions of people and gave them access to treatments they may have not been able to afford without it. This includes patients who are diagnosed with cancer, who need to have access to early screening treatments, as well as women who need mammograms. No one should be denied life-saving treatments because they cannot afford it and we should be working to improve and expand on the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans in Congress, like my opponent, have a different agenda. They continue to attack the Affordable Care Act and undermine the protections it provides to millions of Americans. House Republicans like Ed Royce have attempted to sabotage and repeal the Affordable Care Act more than sixty times since it was passed in 2010. My opponent is no different.

In a Chamber of Commerce forum earlier this year, Young Kim stated her opposition to the Affordable Care Act, calling it, “a broken promise,” and supported repealing it. Kim supports the Republican tax bill that repealed the ACA’s individual mandate, jeopardizing healthcare for 36,000 residents and leading to Covered California raising premiums by 8.7% for 2019. Repeal efforts would also allow insurance companies to charge people between the ages of 50 and 64 five times more what they can charge younger consumers. Not to mention, Kim has also accepted over $223,335 from insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

Recently, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice refused to defend the Affordable Care Act in court, despite it being the law. This action will make insurance markets more unstable and hurt those with pre-existing conditions. Kim has refused to a call out the Trump administration for its lawsuit, which could undo protections for those with pre-existing conditions and put healthcare at risk for 320,700 residents in the 39th District.

I’ve spoken to a mother whose daughter has a heart defect. Because of the Trump administration’s continued attacks to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and undo protections for pre-existing conditions, that mother is worried her daughter is going to lose her life-saving care.

Not to mention, repealing the Affordable Care Act and undermining protections for those with pre-existing conditions will disproportionately burden women. Insurance companies view their gender as a pre-existing condition and repealing protections leaves them vulnerable for equitable healthcare. Women should not be charged more than men for their health insurance, period.

Ed Royce and his protege Young Kim want to take away people’s health insurance. I want to protect it.

In Congress, I will work to fix and improve on the Affordable Care Act in order to expand coverage for those who cannot afford it. Instead of stripping away millions of people’s health insurance, I will protect it for our working families. Americans should not be punished for being a certain gender or having pre-existing conditions, and we need to be working to help them.

Quality, affordable health insurance is something that we can provide to all Americans, we just need to pass legislation to do it and have a Congress that is willing to take on the challenge. I will fight to include a public option that allows anyone to buy into Medicare and will expand it those who can’t afford coverage. A public option was originally meant to be included in the Affordable Care Act, and it will provide another route for people to afford healthcare. In order to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, I will work to pass legislation that allows the government to directly negotiate drug prices with big pharmaceutical companies. Families should not have to break the bank to make sure their children are healthy. We also need to restore the individual mandate, as well as risk corridors, in order to control the costs of premiums.

Seeing my parents struggle without health care is not something I want any family to ever experience. We must stand up to the Republicans and protect a person’s right to quality, affordable healthcare.

Gil Cisneros livs in Yorba Linda and is the Democratic Candidate for the 39th Congressional District.

Gil Cisneros is a dedicated education and veterans advocate. The son of a public-school cafeteria worker and a Vietnam veteran, Gil Cisneros was the first in his family to graduate from college and attended The George Washington University on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) scholarship. Through ten years of service to our country as a U.S. Naval Officer, Gil was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Gil’s dedication toward philanthropy began when he purchased a winning lottery ticket in 2010. Along with his wife Jacki, Gil used his good fortune to create The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation, an organization committed to strengthening public schools and creating college opportunities for students and veterans. In addition, Gil previously served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for The Kennedy Center and continues to serve on the advisory board of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative for college access.

On OC: Gil Cisneros on the 39th, Mike Levin on the 49th

Opinions expressed in editorials belong to the authors and not Voice of OC.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue or others please contact Voice of OC Involvement Editor Theresa Sears at TSears@voiceofoc.org

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