Editor: Congresswoman Barbara Comstock offers much criticism of the Affordable Care Act without proposing any real solutions to the problems its caused and without acknowledging the good it has done for the nearly 40,000 of her constituents who have enrolled. We must insist on a real plan for our future that goes beyond the partisan talking points we’ve heard so far.
I wrote to Congresswoman Comstock’s office concerned about the first steps taken by Congress to repeal the ACA in early January. My family is counted among the many in the 10th District who would be directly affected if key provisions of the law were removed without replacement.
Ms. Comstock’s response provided few details, except to offer her support of a “transition to a patient-centered healthcare system for the American people that is more affordable, portable, flexible, and provides more choices for individuals and families.” The phrase “patient-centered” appeared again, attributed to the congresswoman in the Jan. 19 article in this paper and then again (although this time as “patient-focused”) in a letter to the editor from Clay Suskalo on Feb. 8.
But “patient-centered” is a concept, not a solution.
Congresswoman Comstock’s party focuses attention on the features of the ACA that they assert have chipped away at our choices: the individual mandate, the small number of insurers in some markets, and increasing premiums. But their argument incorrectly equates fixable problems to structural problems. And more damagingly, it conflates lack of choice with poor outcomes for peoples’ health.
The ACA is already a “patient-centered” piece of legislation precisely because it’s net effect has been better healthcare for more Americans. Prior to the ACA, many Americans were shut-out of the insurance marketplace because of low income or preexisting medical conditions. As a result, they were less healthy and at higher risk of being consumed by medical debt. The ACA enacted minimum standards of coverage so that health-care consumers would not get caught without critical coverage. And since 2011 almost 13 million fewer people under 65 have had problems paying their medical bills.
Last week, the Republican Party outlined its ACA replacement plan with a set of policies that addresses the parties ACA talking points, but fails to retain the parts of the ACA that have saved lives and granted 20 million Americans new access to health care. Most critically, the new policies would eliminate all of the taxes and fees associated with the ACA without any suggested revenue replacements. This means exactly what it sounds like: less money for the least advantaged among us to purchase health-care.
Congresswoman Comstock offers the same empty promises as her national party, providing no tangible solutions to our health care needs. I encourage us all to write or call Ms. Comstock and ask her to come and listen to us, to hear our stories. Tell her it’s not about “repeal and replace,” its about delivering better healthcare to more people.
Adam Loverro, Leesburg