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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

How Will Don Young Vote?

By Ghert Abbott


March 22, 2017
Wednesday PM

On March 14th I spoke on the phone with a staffer for Congressman Don Young’s Washington office about my concerns regarding the Trump-Ryan American Health Care Act, which will repeal the Affordable Care Act. If this bill becomes law the Medicaid expansion will be rolled back and Alaskan Medicaid cut, an estimated 1,000 Ketchikan residents could lose their healthcare, Federal subsidies that help Alaskans buy insurance will be cut by 75%, Alaskan insurance premiums will go up and coverage quality down, and elderly Alaskans will be forced to pay more. When all of these effects are taken together, I believe they will greatly harm rural Alaska and result in people dying for lack of affordable care, and I told the staffer this.

The staffer however argued that there was no risk of people dying from loss of coverage because they could get healthcare by visiting the emergency room. I asked him who would be paying for these emergency room visits. He had no answer. I asked him if people suffering from cancer could get chemotherapy in the emergency room (I had a friend who died of cancer and that’s why this question came to mind). The staffer said “I don’t know.” The correct answer is no, you cannot get chemotherapy at the emergency room of Ketchikan General Hospital. There are many other vital health services that people cannot get through the emergency room, so it is not a substitute for genuine lifesaving health insurance and it was very strange to hear Congressman Don Young’s office argue that it was.

Even more disconcerting, when I reiterated that the repeal bill would greatly harm rural Alaska, the staffer asked me, “Do you think it’s right for other people to subsidize you because of where you live?” I thought this was a very curious question coming from the office of a man charged with representing the needs of Alaska in the United States Congress.

The vote on bill is scheduled for this Thursday. Don Young’s office says the Congressman is currently reviewing the legislation for its impact on rural Alaska. If you have a moment, please call Don Young’s Washington D.C. office (202-225-5765) and ask him to consider the negative impact the American Health Care Act would have on our community. Ask him to consider it long and hard.

Ghert Abbott
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received March 21, 2017 - Published March 22, 2017





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