My Turn: Especially now, Granite Staters rely on the ACA

For the Monitor
Published: 3/23/2020 6:15:13 AM

As the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) approaches, the American health care system faces its biggest test yet in combating the spread of the coronavirus.

For 10 years, the Affordable Care Act has ensured that Granite Staters, including the 300,000-plus who live with a pre-existing condition, have access to quality, affordable health care.

People across New Hampshire depend on the Affordable Care Act, and now more than ever, as the United States grapples with the spread of the coronavirus, we must all work to protect our health care against partisan attacks.

Over the course of the past decade, the Affordable Care Act has helped more than 20 million Americans, including 120,000 here in New Hampshire, gain health coverage they can afford. Before the ACA was enacted, insurers could discriminate against seniors, women and people with pre-existing health conditions like high blood pressure, asthma or diabetes by charging them more for coverage.

The ACA prohibits this kind of discrimination, and ensures that all New Hampshire residents, and all Americans, have access to the care they need.

When a Granite Stater is ill, they can see a physician and start treatment for their illness without fearing that their care will bankrupt them.

For 10 years the Affordable Care Act has helped keep Americans healthy and financially stable, but despite the incredible progress made under the law, the law is in real danger today.

Relentless attacks on our health care have left our country ill-equipped to contain the spread of coronavirus and help those already infected recover from the illness.

As the United States scrambles to prevent more deaths from coronavirus, recent changes in our health care system mean some patients seeking coronavirus testing and treatment may not be covered.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court announced it would take up the lawsuit to dismantle the ACA in its upcoming term, which if successful would eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions, undo bans on annual and lifetime caps, and end limits on out-of-pocket costs.

If the suit is successful, millions of Americans, and people across New Hampshire, will lose their health care. It’s also important to note that if the lawsuit is successful, anyone who contracts coronavirus – which could be considered a pre-existing condition – will no longer be protected from discrimination from insurance companies.

This lawsuit spells devastation for the more than 20 million Americans who gained coverage under the ACA, and would unleash chaos within the U.S. health system at a time when we desperately need stability and support.

Now more than ever, Granite Staters are relying on the access to quality, affordable health care the Affordable Care Act offers. The Affordable Care Act has taken this country a long way in 10 years, and we simply cannot afford to be dragged backward.

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

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