Email #103, Subject: “headed where it needs to head”?

Three of your fellow seven Virginia Representatives have come out against the American Health Care Act. But you have not stated a position, despite direct media and constituent requests to do so. You did, however, say you “think” it will bring down costs. I would like to think it would too, but all evidence suggests otherwise.

You’ve been promising a health care plan that will cost Virginians less than the ACA, but if you pass the AHCA, we will pay more. The Wall Street Journal says: “GOP Health Plan Would Hit Rural Areas Hard.” That’s the majority of your home district. In Rockbridge county where I live:

a 40-year-old making $20,000 will pay $890 more.

a 27-year-old making $20,000 will pay $1,020 more.

a family of four making $50,000 will pay $2,220 more.

a family of four making $40,000 will pay $3,650 more.

a 60-year-old couple making $50,000 will pay $7,550.

a 60-year-old couple making $25,000 will pay $11,550 more.

When you were interviewed on Harrisonburg TV last week, you said 38,000 people in our district use the ACA. That’s a higher percentage than nationally because, you explained, we “don’t have the Medicaid expansion in Virginia.” That’s because you and the Republican-controlled state assembly blocked that expansion. As a result, the ACA is even more vital here, a state where, as you also acknowledged, costs are not rising like they are elsewhere.

Though the ACA is working here, I understand that its strategy for keeping costs down hasn’t been working across the country. But the AHCA’s plan to divide people into two insurance groups, “low risk” and “high risk,” won’t keep costs down either. It will do the opposite. It intentionally raises costs for the “high risk,” the people who most need health care.

My family of four won’t be directly affected because my wife and I get our insurance through our employer. But the AHCA will hurt us too. Since it repeals the ACA’s individual mandate, fewer healthy people will sign-up for insurance, which will raise premiums for everyone else. Worse, those same people, when they get sick or injured, can then sign up, further raising our premiums.

You said the AHCA is “headed where it needs to head.” At the moment that’s toward higher premiums, a higher deficit, and less health care for your own constituents. Would you please explain then how you justify your wishful thinking?

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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