TAKE ACTION TO STOP HASTY ACA REPEAL

Letters to the Editor

Editor:

The purpose of this letter is to inform and encourage everyone who reads this to raise your voice to let your legislators know your thoughts about the repeal of our health care legislation. The Senate and the House of Representatives have voted to start dismantling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This legislation affects ALL Americans who receive health care insurance or who want to be able to receive health care insurance, not only those who receive health care insurance through the ACA marketplaces. My e-mail to my Senator below shows some of the benefits and protections of the ACA as well as the costs, fiscally and human, to the repeal.

Action is needed to let your legislators know where you stand on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Please call, e-mail, fax, and/or write your Senators and Representative.

If you need to locate your legislator (Senator and Representative), here is the Web site: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/

If you need to find out who your Representative is, here is the Web site for that:
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Thank you for your actions to let your legislators know where you stand on the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act! I e-mailed Senator Toomey to vote no to the repeal. I am sharing Senator Toomey's reply to my e-mail and my response to his e-mail below:

January 12, 2017
Dear Dr. Scigliano,

Thank you for contacting my office about the president's health care law. I appreciate hearing from you.

President Obama's health care law is fundamentally wrong in its approach to improving our nation's health care system. It forces people to buy overpriced health plans they do not want, hikes taxes, and puts important and personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats instead of patients and their doctors. News of skyrocketing health insurance premium increases-32.5 percent on average in Pennsylvania-coupled with the fact that 40 percent of Pennsylvanians now live in areas with no health insurance competition, show just how Obamacare's broken promises are hurting Pennsylvanians. For these reasons, I have voted for and continue to support the full repeal of the president's health care law.

With the election of Donald Trump and Republicans in control of both Houses of Congress, there is a unique opportunity to repeal Obamacare and reform health care in a way that puts patients - not bureaucrats - first. I have proposed reforms of my own that will lower costs and improve quality care. My main goals include allowing individuals to buy insurance from anywhere in the United States, to end the unfair tax discrimination against those buying coverage in the individual market, and ending frivolous lawsuits that drive up medical costs for everyone. As Congress begins to debate health care reform, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind.

Thank you again for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of assistance.

Sincerely,
Pat Toomey
U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania

Dear Senator Toomey,

Thank you for your response to my email to vote no on repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). I will be in touch with your office to request your ideas for reforms which you mention in your email. I believe in being tactful; however, this is not a time to mince words.

Sir, I think that you underestimate and insult your constituents' intelligence and memories. One of the reasons that the ACA is not as effective as it was intentioned to be is that Republican Legislators and Governors have blocked key elements of this important legislation that would have kept costs down.

It is ironic that Republicans have not supported the health care reform that has become the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This legislation is based on and inspired by Republican plans. Most notably, the ACA is drawn from the highly successful legislation signed by a Republican Governor, Mitt Romney, which boosted his state's insured rates to 98%. Other inspiration for the essence of ACA legislation came from a 1993 plan devised by Republican Senators Chafee, Grassley, Durenberger, and Hatch.

As you surely know, and as Senator Casey and Representative Doyle know well as evidenced by their No vote for repeal, the Affordable Care Act is working. We have the lowest uninsured rate ever and all insured patients have protections under this law.

With The Affordable Care Act law, these are important protections including:

People with pre-existing conditions can get and keep health insurance

Lifetime caps for benefits are banned

Children can remain on parents' health care until age 26

Medicaid has been expanded

Some benefits will not be fully implemented until 2020

These benefits apply to all Americans who buy insurance, not just those who purchase insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Repealing ACA will impact all Americans who receive health insurance. Furthermore, repeal efforts will negatively impact individuals on Medicare. The ACA ensured Medicare funding for an additional 13 years.

Repeal is fiscally irresponsible. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in a June 2015 report titled "Budgetary and Economic Effects of Repealing the Affordable Care Act", along with findings by the Joint Commission on Taxation (JCT), stated:"...CBO and JCT’s best estimate is that repealing the ACA would increase federal budget deficits by $137 billion over the 2016–2025 period...."

Repeal is morally reprehensible. Repealing without replacing or replacing with less effective measures would place millions of Americans at risk. It is estimated that 30 million people would lose their insurance. It is safe to assume that many of these people do not have the financial means to find other access to health insurance. Indeed, some may lose their lives and many will have a diminished quality of life. Theodore Sizer noted, "The measure of the worth of a society is how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members." Repeal will certainly have negative consequences for these members of our society.

Can The Affordable Care Act be improved? Absolutely! However, the call to action should be Sustain and Strengthen, not repeal and replace. This legislation is so complicated that removing one part could cause all parts to collapse, much like pulling out the wrong block in a game of Jenga.

Thoughtful and intentional efforts to strengthen this legislation are needed. Republicans have not come up with any replacement within the six years since the law was enacted; how can citizens be assured that replacement will occur quickly if at all?

I urge you to put partisan politics aside and to work to sustain and strengthen the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. You have access to the best health care in our country.

Of this I am certain, all Americans deserve that same level of quality health care and affordable health care insurance.

Sincerely,
Dr. Deborah Scigliano
Bellevue