Letter to the Editor: The Affordable Care Act is not dead yet

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Like the “dead man” scene in the classic Monty Python film, the Affordable Care Act is not dead yet.

In 2009, I voted for the Affordable Care Act after hearing from more than 15,000 constituents.

Largely, the legislation worked as intended. It improved Medicare benefits for seniors, banned discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and expanded health care coverage for those who need it most.

In Washington state, the Affordable Care Act has been extremely successful. Approximately 537,000 Washingtonians gained insurance, roughly 3 million Washingtonians with a pre-existing condition gained protection from insurance companies unfairly dropping their coverage, and 75,000 Washington seniors saved $73 million on prescription medication in 2015 alone.

Is the law perfect? No.

But repealing it without an immediate, comprehensive replacement plan will be a disaster. And Washington’s middle class families, seniors and individuals on disability will bear the brunt of the impact.

I asked Washingtonians to reach out to me and share their stories about how they or someone they know has benefited from the Affordable Care Act. More than 400 individuals have submitted stories using www.larsen.house.gov/shareyourstory.

Individuals like “R” from Bellingham, who told me his experience with leukemia changed his mind about the Affordable Care Act.

He wrote, “to say that my experience changed my ‘Republican’ heart about the ACA is an understatement. I now have a pre-existing condition that, if not for the ACA, would otherwise remove me from health insurance coverage. The drug benefit requirement of the ACA means I am not bankrupt from drug bills I could never pay, and the removal of lifetime caps [on coverage] means I will be able to move forward should my leukemia recur.”

And he is not alone.

Retirees like Debra from Maple Falls also benefit. Debra and her husband require daily medication. Debra wrote, “if we did not receive this assistance for my spouse – like reduced premiums, assistance with his prescriptions… we would be living on the street.”

Last week I concluded a seven-stop Affordable Care Act Tour of Washington’s 2nd Congressional District. During the tour I heard from more than 200 constituents in public forums and met with hospital administrators, health care providers, insurers, patient advocacy organizations and members of the faith community about how Congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no plan to replace it will affect Washingtonians.

The message I am bringing back to D.C. is this: Washington’s health care users and providers are demanding Congress show them a replacement plan that meets the standards of quality, coverage and cost Washingtonians have come to expect thanks to the Affordable Care Act. This includes no lifetime caps on coverage and protecting care for individuals with preexisting conditions.

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that after the first year of repealing the Affordable Care Act consumer premiums will increase by 20-25 percent and 18 million Americans will lose health insurance – with that number climbing to 32 million by 2026.

Health care is serious stuff. It is the difference between life and death for millions of Americans.

At my town hall in Mountlake Terrace, I told my constituents that the Affordable Care Act is not dead yet. There is plenty of fight left to be had before repeal takes place, and I am more ready than ever for that fight.

Sincerely,
Rep. Rick Larsen

U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen represents Washington’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Mountlake Terrace.

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