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Congressman, how will you keep health care affordable?

Letter to the Editor


This letter is written to Congressman Dan Newhouse in response to his letter to concerned constituents about the planned repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

Dear Congressman Newhouse,

As you know, many Americans are concerned about their access to health care if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed without a meaningful replacement. One of the key provisions of the ACA, which you supported in your recent letter to me, is that insurers are not permitted to discriminate against individuals with pre-existing conditions. In other words, someone who is sick and needing care cannot be denied insurance on that basis. That is a fortunate position you take, as, prior to the ACA, many individuals could not get insurance. For example, some years ago my sister-in-law, who took one pill once a day for controlled high blood pressure, applied for insurance when her husband quit his job. In spite of her minor level of medical care, she was denied insurance. 

I said your position is fortunate, but it is also meaningless unless backed up with other regulations. You see, if people can get insurance when they are sick without penalty, then why would they pay premiums when they are well? Insurers are very good at calculating their costs; insurance will rapidly become unaffordable if only sick people are trying to get it. Insurance only works when lots of healthy people are paying into it. Which brings us back to the individual mandate: enacting the mandate is part of the reason health care cost inflation slowed dramatically the first two years of the ACA (because more healthy young people joined the insurance pool). Another provision of the ACA that makes my insurance affordable, as an older working American, is the regulation that sets maximum premiums at three times the lowest premium. 

So, Congressman Newhouse, could you please tell us how you will keep health care affordable for ordinary working Americans after you repeal the ACA? As you enjoy your taxpayer-funded health insurance, keep in mind your constituents’ needs.

Thank you for addressing this issue of great importance to 30 million Americans who currently buy their insurance on the individual market.

Peter Bauer


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