I’ve spent more than 20 years working in community medicine. In that time, I’ve served many patients who do not have insurance—not by choice, and through no fault of their own, but because with low wage jobs, they cannot afford traditional health insurance. The financial and emotional strain it puts on parents and families is enormous and draining.

The Affordable Care Act has been a huge help. It’s the one meaningful step we’ve taken to expand access to health insurance in decades. Now it is in danger, because Donald Trump is committed to destroying it in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a century.

For North Carolina, eliminating the ACA means ripping away protections for almost 5 million people across our state who are living with a pre-existing condition. It means that more than 1.8 million seniors who save thousands of dollars on prescription drugs will pay much higher, potentially unaffordable prices for the medications they need. And it means leaving behind the 1 million people across North Carolina who don’t have insurance at all.

Not only is Donald Trump trying to destroy it; he is doing it in the midst of a global pandemic, a time when families are scared not only of the virus, but of the possibility that someone in their household will lose their job, and their health insurance along with it.

That Trump isn’t capable of understanding how much worse the pandemic would be without the ACA shows that he isn’t fit to lead us through this crisis. Moreover, for a candidate seeking reelection to have no plan to ensure that Americans can afford to see a doctor is beyond a failure; it’s disqualifying.

We’ve waited for more than five years for Donald Trump to propose a healthcare plan, and he still hasn’t done it. A few things are clear: He has no plan, he never will, and North Carolinians are done waiting.

Fortunately for us, there is a candidate in this race who has a real plan—not just to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, but to make sure every North Carolinian has the peace of mind of being able to see a doctor when they need to.

Joe Biden has told us exactly what he’ll do as president. He’ll build on the Affordable Care Act by creating a public option that will give every American access to quality health insurance, no matter their income, zip code, or race.

Our country is in crisis, and we have to recognize that we’re in this together. Our response has to empower and include every American, and to do that, we need every American to step up and do their part— every vote counts. Before early voting ends this week, tell your friends, neighbors, and coworkers to make a plan to cast their ballot. Ask people if they have voted, and if they say no, ask when they plan to. Together, we can encourage the turnout that North Carolina needs and help elect Joe Biden. 

Diane Davis works as a family medicine physician assistant in Durham. She earned her Physician Assistant Certification from Wake Forest University and her master’s in public health from UNC-Chapel Hill. DComment on this story at backtalk@indyweek.com

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.