Letter: Fix ACA, don't repeal it
Monday, March 20, 2017
“Someone is sitting in a hospital right now with chemo running in their veins and trying to figure out if they will have health insurance next year.” These noteworthy words were uttered by Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings in a CNN interview. Such a statement also reflects the emotional and political context in which the Republican-dominated House of Representatives is agonizing over a health care bill to replace (or dramatically change) the Affordable Care Act.
The Congressional Budget Office, which is nonpartisan, said in a recent report that 24 million Americans would lose coverage over the next 10 years under the Republican plan. Moreover, according to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the controversial bill would slash taxes for the wealthy and corporations by over $600 billion over the coming decade.
Congressman Cummings was right when he asserted, “This is a moral issue. People have a right to stay alive.” Cummings posited that the bill must provide safeguards for the mentally challenged, chronically ill, and those using opioids. Further, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy often taught us the importance of affordable health care for all Americans and not just for the privileged few.
Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich said, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” He continued, “We have to care about people.” (Meet the Press) The governor seemed baffled by the fact that many governors oppose Medicaid expansion. Kasich simply wants his Republican gubernatorial colleagues to have empathy and compassion for the poor, including vulnerable senior citizens.
In a nutshell, the ACA is not perfect, given that countless people in some states have complained about high deductibles and costly premiums. However, the U.S. Congress has an obligation to fix the problems and not hurt those who need health care access the most. Mere coverage is not the same as access.
KEITH W. COOPER