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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

The American Health Care Act Is What Repeal Looks Like

By Ghert Abbott


March 27, 2017
Monday PM

As the American Health Care Act was the best possible repeal legislation that House Republicans could create, we’d do well to consider the full significance of last week’s debacle. What would repeal have meant if it had been successful? And what does its total political failure mean for American healthcare?

The AHCA raised premiums, reduced coverage quality, and cut by 75% the subsidies that help people buy insurance. It financially penalized senior citizens and people unable to afford health insurance because they lost their jobs. It rolled back the Medicaid expansion and drastically cut the program, particularly in rural states, by imposing a one size fit all block grant system. As a result, 24 million Americans would have lost their health insurance, 45,000 of them Alaskans, and of those 45,000 Alaskans approximately 1,000 would have been Ketchikan residents. Tens of thousands of people would have died per year for lack of affordable care.

And this was only the bill at its beginning, before caucus negotiations put the Affordable Care Act’s essential benefits on the chopping block. Gone was the requirement that all insurance plans provide outpatient care, emergency room access, inpatient care, maternity care, mental health services, rehabilitative services, laboratory services, preventive services, chronic disease treatment, addiction treatment, pediatric services, and proscription drugs. This would have further increased premiums and made the rule banning discrimination based on preexisting conditions effectively meaningless.

The American Health Care Act, from its horrific start to its nightmarish finish, is what the best possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act would mean for the United States. The AHCA is repeal and repeal is the AHCA. Any political figure who says they still favor repeal, as our Congressman recently did in order to save face, is saying that they’d still support the AHCA or worse, provided they could get away with it. But if the last two weeks demonstrate anything, it is that the American people will not let them get away with it.

There is therefore no humane or politically viable alternative to the national structure established by the Affordable Care Act save a single payer system.

Ghert Abbott
Ketchikan, Alaska

Received March 27, 2017 - Published March 27, 2017


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