Rep. Annie Kuster: Let’s improve, not repeal

  • Rep. Annie Kuster AP

For the Monitor
Published: 1/13/2017 12:20:04 AM

If you have ever cared for a loved one struggling with a debilitating disease, as I have, you know the emotional toll and daily struggles that come with even the most basic tasks.

From bathing to meals to transportation, challenges await at every turn. No one should have to face these trials while struggling with the financial burden from lack of affordable health care.

Just imagine being denied necessary health care because you or a loved one suffered from a preexisting condition, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer or diabetes. That sadly was the reality not long ago, and it could be our future if many Republicans in Congress get their way.

I’ve heard from many Granite Staters concerned about what a repeal of the Affordable Care Act would mean for them.

Take Sally from West Chesterfield. Her daughter has Crohn’s disease and is on their family plan because she is under 26. She will always need access to health care because of her medical condition, but if the ACA protections are repealed, insurance companies could deny her coverage because of her preexisting condition. I want to avoid this scenario for Sally’s family and countless others who are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.

I’m one of the first to admit that the Affordable Care Act is not perfect. I was not in Congress when the law was passed, and there are changes that I support. The fact is, the ACA is in place and has helped more than 22 million Americans gain access to health care and more than 100,000 of our friends and neighbors in New Hampshire depend on it. Efforts to repeal the ACA without any plan for what comes next are irresponsible and reckless. We can’t pull the rug out from under the feet of hardworking Americans.

Let’s take a moment and think about what repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean. Young adults under the age of 26 would be kicked off their families’ plans. Patients would once again be responsible for out-of-pocket costs for many preventive services, such as mammograms and contraceptives, and women would pay more for their health care.

Repealing the ACA would restore the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap, aka the “donut-hole,” which would increase the costs of drugs for seniors on Medicare.

The subsidies that have made health insurance affordable for so many Americans would be eliminated. Medicaid expansion, which has helped thousands of Granite Staters through improved access to mental health and addiction recovery services, would cease to exist. And once again, insurance companies could deny coverage because of a patient’s medical history. We cannot allow this to happen.

I’m eager to work across the aisle with anyone to make improvements to the ACA. I’ve voted for commonsense reforms to protect small businesses from onerous regulations and to ensure families are able to access care. But what I will not do is allow Republicans in Congress to jeopardize the health insurance of millions Americans and one-in-ten Granite Staters.

Any provisions to change the ACA must meet three basic cornerstones: expand access to care, increase affordability and improve quality of care. I know that many of my Republican colleagues share these goals. If they are willing to work in a bipartisan manner to achieve these objectives, I will be a constructive partner.

But we cannot allow partisanship and insider politics to derail a policy that’s beginning to make a real difference for hard-working families.

We cannot allow Planned Parenthood, which provides crucial services to thousands of Granite State women, to close its doors just to appease right-wing ideologues. What we can do is come together like adults and work to improve and build on a health care system that works for all Americans.

(Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat, represents New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.)

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