My Turn: Health care is defining issue for Granite Staters in 2020

For the Monitor
Published: 6/24/2020 6:20:13 AM

Health care has emerged as the clear pivot point in America’s political landscape during this tumultuous year. And in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic producing too many deaths and economic damage, Democrats in Congress are working to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act to increase access, reduce costs and strengthen patient protections.

A single week late this month will tell Granite Staters all they need to know. On June 25, in the middle of a pandemic, the current administration will file briefs in support of a lawsuit to overturn the ACA and take health care from 20 million Americans, raise health care costs, and gut protections for 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions. Just days later, House Democrats will bring legislation to the floor to build on the ACA by further lowering costs, expanding coverage, and strengthening protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

The choice is between taking coverage away from millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic versus making health care more accessible and affordable for the American people. This dichotomy will set the agenda for the November election on what most likely will be the number one issue on the minds of Granite Staters.

Polling has shown that health care remains the top issue for voters headed into the November election. Health care priorities are even more salient because of the coronavirus crisis. Americans are more concerned than ever about access to health care and affordability because of the financial strains placed on millions because of the economic fallout from the pandemic.

The Democrats will soon have a bill that will lower costs, increase coverage, strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions, and help address racial disparities in care that have been further exposed by the administration’s disastrous coronavirus response. For example, common-sense provisions to improve health care such as expanding Medicaid, increasing coverage affordability, and banning junk insurance plans would benefit all Americans, but they would have a particularly salient impact on health care for African Americans.

While Granite Staters and millions of folks around the country have already lost health coverage due to the pandemic, some are still arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their coverage. If the president is successful in eliminating the Affordable Care Act, 90,000-plus people in New Hampshire would be at risk of losing access to health care.

The current administration will file its brief with the Supreme Court to repeal the ACA on June 25, and the case may be argued this fall.

Simply put, there has never been a more important time to protect and expand Americans’ health care, and never a worse time to take it away. At the same time the administration presents its case for removing health care from millions of Americans, the New Hampshire delegation is making the opposite argument: to improve and expand coverage, strengthen protections for pre-existing conditions, and get more Americans covered during this public health crisis.

Even before the coronavirus crisis, health care was and is the most important kitchen table issue in New Hampshire. As the first half of 2020 draws to a close, voters are presented a clear contrast on which to base their choice in the November elections.

(Jayme Simões of Protect our Care N.H. lives in Concord.)


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