Email #171: “do better”?

Thank you for your form letter regarding the Affordable Care Act and the American Health Care Act. I am pleased that you too are concerned with “how Congress can better reform our health care system.”

I agree with you that the “status quo cannot continue” and that “our nation can do better.” According to this week’s Department of Health and Human Service’s report “Individual Market Premium Changes: 2013 – 2017,” premiums for people in the ACA’s individual markets roughly doubled in its four-year period. That’s evidence that the ACA either needs to be fixed or to be replaced with something better.

But the AHCA does neither. You said: “I firmly believe that the American Health Care Act is a better way forward.” You are firmly mistaken.

According to the Congressional Budget Office’s March report, the AHCA would increase premiums 15-20% in the next two years. And according to this week’s CBO report, the poor and elderly—those in so-called high-risk pools—would see their premiums rise an extraordinary 750%. That actually makes the flaws of ACA look good. And if the ACA remains through 2026, the CBO estimates that the number of uninsured people will rise from 27 mission to 28 million. But if the AHCA replaces it, that number rises to 52 million. That’s 23 million more uninsured.

Instead of keeping people insured and their premiums down, the AHCA cuts about $1 trillion in taxes, mostly for insurance companies and wealthy individuals. No wonder only 21% of voters approve of the AHCA. And that was before the new CBO report. Compare that to the ACA’s 50% approval rate.

You said: “As the Senate begins consideration of this bill, I urge them to keep the process moving.” But you knew that even before the new CBO report Senate Republicans were dismissing the bill. Senator Collins said: “The House bill is not going to come before us. The Senate is starting from scratch…. My goal is to actually expand coverage for those 28 million Americans who still lack coverage today despite the ACA.”

Collins acknowledges that the ACA is at least attempting to expand affordable coverage. You also say that ensuring “access to affordable health care” is important—and yet your rhetoric repeatedly shows that repealing “Obamacare” is your real goal. You say that “Obamacare must not remain the law of the land” as if repealing it will in itself achieve anything for health care. It won’t. You know that, and yet you continue to rely on pointlessly vilifying rhetoric: “It’s easy to see why this mess of big-government mandates and red tape has not provided the health care solutions so many families need.”

It’s even easier to see why the mess of the AHCA won’t either. You said you supported the bill because it “would take steps to ensure health care remains affordable and accessible.” Will you now acknowledge that your statement is verifiably wrong? Will you admit that you made an error by voting for the AHCA before the CBO completed its analysis? Will you stop obsessing about repealing the ACA and start sincerely working on ways to achieve its vital goals?

Would you please “do better”?

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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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