Repeal and replace?

People reflect on the pros and cons of the ACA

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The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2012, is in danger of being repealed under  Pres. Donald Trump’s administration. What started as a way to resolve the “healthcare crisis” by making healthcare more accessible and affordable is now on the chopping block.

“Twenty million Americans were provided health care through the Affordable Care Act,” said Peter Henry, who protested in favor of the ACA on Feb. 26 in Roseville. “Many of these were people with low incomes, people with preexisting conditions, and they need health care just as much as anybody else. We need to improve the Affordable Care Act, not repeal it.”

Shortly after the protest, on Mar. 7, Congress finally revealed their long-awaited replacement for the ACA, and have titled it the “American Health Care Act.”  

The new bill aims to get  rid of federal insurance subsidies and replace them with individual tax credits.

In order to fund the ACA, the upper-middle class experienced a tax increase to help pay for lower income individuals, which has upset many critics.

“It has caused rates to go through the roof, nearly doubling for people who needed cheaper health care to begin with,” Granite Bay High senior Satgur Maan said.

Before the ACA, 15.7 percent of people were uninsured. By the beginning of 2016, it had lowered to 8.6 percent, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

“Seeing patients come back after they had to drop out of treatment because they lost insurance or they switched to an insurance that didn’t have mental health coverage anymore … is very, very gratifying,” said Carolyn Sammon, a psychiatrist at Plaza Psychology and Psychiatry in Rhode Island.

Sammon also said the increased insurance rates are not necessarily the fault of the ACA.

“I was practicing before the Affordable Care Act when premiums went up and up and up every single year,” Sammon said. “And every year we paid more for less, and we used to blame it on the greed of the insurance companies. Somehow we managed to change the conversation and instead of blaming corporate greed, … we started blaming the black man (former Pres. Barack Obama) in the White House.”

There is a difference of opinion among many about whether the ACA should be altered or completely abolished.

“I think a replacement is necessary, and that’s what Trump and the other Congressional leaders are working on,” Maan said. “We need to make sure all people are covered and drive down costs for those who can’t afford these astronomical rates.”

Some Republicans are perplexed by the new bill, as they consider it too similar to its predecessor, the ACA. These people have dubbed the American Health Care Act “Obamacare Lite” in opposition.

Sammon said she found it hard to believe the Republicans could come up with an effective plan that is different from the ACA.

As for Henry, the Roseville protester, he just wants something that will make improvements to Obamacare.

“What should be done is not (just) the repeal of it, but the improvement of the Affordable Care Act,” Henry said. “And if Republicans want to change the name … then I am in favor of changing the name, but make it better. Don’t take it away.”

According to Maan, the privatization of healthcare may lead to lower prices.

“One way (to lower costs) would be to make healthcare more competitive, which would mean more providers trying to undercut each other resulting in lower rates for all,” Maan said.

On Feb. 25, dozens of protesters gathered on Douglas Blvd. in Roseville to express their concerns about the possible repeal of the ACA.

“I‘m here protesting because I  believe everybody should have access to health care, particularly if they  have a preexisting condition,” said Holly Cuthbertson, who attended the protest. “They should not be denied health care coverage for that.”

Sammon, the Rhode Island psychiatrist, is very passionate when it comes to protesting for the ACA, and she is not shy about voicing her beliefs for the benefit of her patients.

“Speak up. Speak up. Speak up,” Sammon said. “And definitely let your Senators and Congressional reps, … know how important the Affordable Care Act has turned out to be for your family, (and) how important it has been for your community.

“In other countries it (is) considered a basic human right to go see a doctor when you’re sick. In the United States, it is not. I  think we need to be honest with ourselves about why we as a society don’t seem to care about human suffering and human developing.”

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