Guest Columnist

Joni Ernst's Supreme Court vote will harm Iowans

Sen. Joni Ernst in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Sen. Joni Ernst in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

While it was no 2020, 2008 was a challenging year for me. Still working to support myself as an off-campus commuter student, I lost a home in the 2008 flood. Then, in 2010 as a senior in college, I fell ill while uninsured and, like too many Americans do everyday, I struggled to find the community resources I needed to get better.

Having experienced firsthand the uncertainty, fear and danger suffered by uninsured people on the brink, I believe health care is a right and not a privilege. And it’s why I’ve dedicated my career as an elected member of the Iowa House of Representatives to fighting for the right to health care for all Iowans.

When I heard that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, it struck a blow. I know what Justice Ginsburg did to blaze a trail for women like me, and I became even more determined to use my position to fight for women who will come behind me.

However, I was especially concerned by the implications Justice Ginsburg’s passing would have on uninsured Iowans. Especially in the midst of a historic pandemic, the stakes are too high to go back to the pre-Affordable Care Act days of 2008.

We know that Supreme Court nomination fights get very political. But it’s important to keep your focus on how this fight will affect us here in Iowa.

President Donald Trump will nominate a judge whose first task will be to dismantle health care protections and jeopardize any coverage of preexisting conditions.

In a study done before the pandemic, The Center for American Progress found that 187,000 Iowans would lose their coverage if the Affordable Care Act was overturned by the Supreme Court, and another 1.3 million with preexisting conditions would face higher premiums, diminished coverage or an inability to buy insurance on the open market.

In short, this Supreme Court nomination has very real consequences for Iowans.

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We are in the middle of a pandemic that has taken so many of our fellow Iowans and caused the suffering of so many others. If you are one of the 83,000 Iowans who have contracted COVID-19 you should be worried about the future of the Affordable Care Act. If you have a family member or friend who has contracted COVID-19 you should be worried. Because we don’t know what the long term effects of COVID-19 are and in the future COVID could be classified as a preexisting condition.

Let’s be clear that if Ernst votes to confirm Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court she will be voting to overturn health care protections in Iowa, with very real consequences to thousands — if not millions — of Iowa citizens. In the midst of a deadly pandemic, any senator who votes to confirm Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court should be held accountable by the people impacted the most.

Iowans will have the chance to raise their voices and vote Ernst out this Nov. 3. Without anyone looking out for us in the senate, it’s up to us to protect our health care and the protections it now offers to the most vulnerable among us.

Make your plan to vote and stay safe.

Liz Bennett is an Iowa state representative, serving District 65 in Cedar Rapids.

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