By Lyndsay Ammon Avalos

Like a majority of Americans, I am worried about the games that Washington is playing with the lives and health of millions of Americans by working to destroy the Affordable Care Act. Families are anxious and lives are in the balance. I know, because my daughter’s life may be one.

As a mom, I have no greater level of concern than for my 5-year-old daughter, who is successfully struggling to overcome a life-threatening disease — acute lymphoblastic leukemia — with the help of the health law. For 27 months, she has endured multiple hospitalizations, blood and platelet transfusions, surgeries and procedures, and endless rounds of chemotherapy, steroids and antibiotics. She required physical therapy and medications to quell some side effects of the leukemia-killing agents, but for others there was little that could be done to alleviate her suffering.

As her hair began to fall out, I braided it to try to hide the thinning and distract her from her sadness. I fought back my own tears when she finally let me cut the few strands holding a huge mat of hair, hugged her then then kissed her bald head over and over. As a cancer survivor, my daughter faces a lifetime of testing for relapses and deleterious effects of chemotherapy. Under the Affordable Care Act, however, her future health is protected as she cannot be denied coverage.

As a medical researcher, I am astounded that politicians can callously ignore rigorous scientific research that points to the extraordinarily high human cost of losing access to health care. That research definitively shows how the Affordable Care Act is making a difference for millions of Americans:

•Families know that they won’t go bankrupt paying for medical bills.

•More people are accessing and receiving life-saving preventive health services such as vaccinations and screening for chronic diseases because no co-payment is required. As a result, there has been a substantial increase in early-stage cancer diagnoses.

•Patients are no longer forgoing or watering down lifesaving medications because they can’t afford them.

•Health outcomes nationwide have significantly improved: more Americans are surviving cancer, controlling chronic conditions, and reporting improved mental health. Mortality rates are down.

However, we know that too many Americans not eligible for government-subsidized care through Medicaid have seen their health insurance premiums soar over the past few years — in tandem with the compensation of the health insurance company CEOs.

Together with the research these findings tell us enhancement of the Affordable Care Act is warranted; destroying it is not.

Here’s what we need our legislators to do: Legislate through bipartisan action — send the bill back to committees, hold hearings and listen to both sides to improve the framework of the Affordable Care Act and ensure affordable care and subsequent positive health outcomes for all. For example, Congress needs to figure out how to control the cost of premiums and deductibles.

It is barbaric and irresponsible for President Trump to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. It is inhumane to intentionally destabilize the insurance market and cut the subsidies that help low- and moderate-income Americans get care.

Why shouldn’t every American have access to the same level of health care, paid for by taxpayers, as Sen. John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer?

This isn’t about my daughter or even the millions of Americans who will suffer if the Affordable Care Act implodes. This is about what kind of nation we are and what the real promise of America is.

Lyndsay Ammon Avalos is a research scientist and epidemiologist in the Bay Area.