2017-01-11 / Mailbag

Scared sick of GOP .plans' for Obamacare

To The Editor:

We’re still being reassured by Republicans and by Donald Trump that they have a replacement plan for health insurance once they repeal Obamacare. No one has actually seen that plan. Speaking as a self-employed businessperson who remembers the nightmare of insurance before Obamacare, this is terrifying. Why the secrecy? Why the rush past democracy?

Maybe it’s the numbers. A Kaiser Family poll from November 2016 shows that only 26 percent of Americans want the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repealed. A whopping 66 percent oppose repealing. They want it either scaled back (17 percent) kept as is (19 percent) or expand- ed (30 percent).

Obamacare wasn’t thrown together. The act was debated for a long time before being passed, and the process included over 100 Republican proposed amendments.

I get the sense Republicans want to pass a repeal before anyone, including our new representatives, have a chance to think or review the facts. Here’s just some of the information I found about what’s happening in New York.

Since the ACA was enacted in 2010, 939,000 New Yorkers gained coverage. The uninsured rate in NY has fallen by 40 percent. It assures affordable access to health insurance for people with pre existing conditions.

In New York, 3,424,666 people are covered by Medicare. The ACA strengthened the Medicare Trust Fund, extending its life by over a decade.

Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 359,127 New York seniors are saving $429 million on drugs in 2015, an average of $1,195 per beneficiary.

The ACA introduced new incentives for hospitals to avoid preventable patient harms and avoidable readmissions. Hospital readmissions for New York Medicare beneficiaries dropped 11 percent between 2010 and 2015 — 8,407 times New York Medicare beneficiaries avoided an unnecessary return to the hospital in 2015.

In 2015, due in part to the ACA, health-care spending grew at the slowest rate on record since 1960. Health care price inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years.

Cost-curbing measures and reductions in health insurance costs due to subsidies help insure expanding coverage options. This expansion has the potential to result in an overall net decrease of the deficit by driving health care costs down over time.

An estimated 143,000 New Yorkers have health insurance today because New York expanded Medicaid under the ACA.

Thanks to expansion and improved access to treatment for mental illness or substance use disorder, an estimated 13,000 fewer New Yorkers are experiencing symptoms of depression.

Children, people with disabilities, and seniors can more easily access Medicaid coverage thanks to the ACA streamlined Medicaid eligibility processes.

So... before throwing all this and more down the drain with a hasty, uninformed “repeal” shouldn’t we demand an opportunity to inspect and give our feedback on whatever the replace will be? Is this new congress afraid of daylight? Afraid of actual democracy? I know I’m afraid for my health.

Lisa Tait,
New Kingston

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