Letter to the Editor: Affordable Care Act turns nine

To the Editor:

Sadly, I recall a friend who was seriously ill and seeking treatment at Mayo Clinic.  Not only was she dealing with the stress and worries of an illness but extremely distraught because she learned her insurance company would not cover treatment. Her insurance company determined her illness was a pre-existing condition so would not pay the medical bills.  Guilty over becoming ill and fearing bankruptcy, she felt her best option was to cancel all medical appointments and forego treatment.

Many found themselves facing these kind of choices before the Patient Protection - Affordable Care Act was passed 9 years ago. Prior to this Act, 50 million people were uninsured. One in two people had a preexisting condition like diabetes, heart disease, cancer which insurance would not cover. The number one cause of bankruptcy was an inability to pay medical bills.

The Affordable Care Act is based on the principle that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable insurance.

It was patterned after the Republican plan Mitt Romney instituted in Massachusetts which is a private market - public plan.  The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans for nearly a decade.
Its achievements:

1. Outlawed discrimination or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.
2. Allows young adults to stay on family health plans until age 26.
3. Requires coverage of essential benefits including care for mental illness, substance abuse, rehabilitation, and preventative care.
4. Eliminates annual or lifetime limits.
5.  Helps Medicare recipients get preventative services with no cost sharing.

Twenty million Americans have gained insurance and another 180 million who are insured through their employers reap the benefits of  coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Although the Affordable Care Act has helped millions, there is still more that needs to be done to expand affordable coverage to every American. Middle class, older citizens who earn too much to receive tax subsidies face insurance premiums that are way too costly.

Fortunately, the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are putting forth plans to address problems like the high cost of premiums. The Democrats’ goals are to protect and strengthen the ACA and fix what is not working. Contrast this with Trump and the Republicans who are now petitioning the court to completely abolish the entire Affordable Care Act, including abolishing the  protections for pre-existing conditions.

Noteworthy, is that Trump and the Republicans have no plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.  It’s obvious which party is putting people first by standing up for the principle that all Americans should have quality, affordable health care.

Karen Pratte


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