Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the East Bay Democrat who is a psychiatric social worker and cut her political teeth on the issue of health care equality, brought the fight to campus Monday, speaking at a forum held by the Berkeley Center for Social Medicine in the Valley Life Sciences Building.
Quoting Martin Luther King, she reminded the room of the civil rights leader’s words, decades ago: Injustice of any kind is wrong, as she recounted it, but “injustice in health is the most shocking, the most inhumane, because it often results in physical death.”
She spoke in the context of the Republican party’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama era health insurance program which she said has saved many lives and helped close the life expectancy gap for people of color. And she laid out clearly the costs of the replacement being pushed by the GOP: low and middle income people won’t be able to afford insurance, Medi-Cal will disappear, and, as experts in the Congressional Budget Office estimated, 24 million more people will live without insurance by 2026.
When it comes to the fight engulfing Washington right now, she said: “We have to continue to raise our voices, to speak clearly and loudly, to keep having those town halls — and my district is leading the way, I just have to say.”