Our President Offered To Help Charlie Gard. Is This An About Face On His American Health Care Act?

07/03/2017 09:47 pm ET Updated Jul 05, 2017

For a moment, I thought I had read it incorrectly. Our president tweeted, “If we can help little #CharlieGard, as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.”

Is this an about face? It is certainly a slap in the face of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) that he has proposed.

All people should have affordable access to medical care regardless of a pre-existing condition. However under the proposed AHCA, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted that 23 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage under the AHCA and that many of these would be people with pre-existing conditions.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, some pre-existing conditions that may no longer be covered under the AHCA include Alzheimer’s and dementia, cancer, cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and stroke. Baby Charlie’s rare, congenital mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome would be considered a pre-existing condition under the AHCA.

If Charlie had lived in the U.S. and the AHCA had passed, it may not have been the court system that ruled that further life-sustaining measures could be stopped. Instead it would have been the parents’ ability to continue to afford his care. Almost no individual family could pay for the treatment Charlie would need. None of us can predict when we may have an expensive medical emergency. We need healthcare plans that pay it forward by spreading the risk so families have the ability to make choices for the people they love. This is what the Affordable Healthcare Act enacted under President Obama does more effectively than the AHCA proposed by our president and the House GOP. ObamaCare protects our loved ones regardless of what pre-existing condition they may have.

I am sorry that Charlie and his parents could not live in a time when they might have avoided becoming a lightning bolt to highlight the flaws of our current political climate. The love and grief Charlie and his parents share should have been an intimate moment that was theirs alone. It should not have become a fulcrum for controversy.

But maybe through Charlie, our president saw the beauty of Charlie’s face and the love and anguish his parents had for him. Our president offered to help little Charlie, who was not a U.S. citizen and had nothing to offer to the U.S. economy. Maybe Charlie could be the turning point for our president and the GOP to reaffirm the moral imperative to help our own children and citizens in the US regardless of pre-existing conditions or their financial ability.

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