Putting a face on what repeal of health care law looks like

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Washington, DC, January 27, 2017 | By Rep. Susan Davis | comments

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act took a major step closer toward repealing the law this month.

Republicans, with Democrats unified in opposition, passed a budget resolution that will allow the repeal of the health care law with just 51 votes in the Senate.

Within hours of assuming office, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to look for ways to begin dismantling the health care law.

We cannot allow ourselves to get so caught up in the politics of the moment that we ignore the human tragedy of repealing health care.

I get frustrated that the political conversation in Washington often skips over the real impact that repeal will have on our communities.

I have been hearing from constituents fearful of losing their health care coverage. They’ve shared countless stories of how access to health care has improved, and in some cases, saved their lives.

Elizabeth Silva wrote me about her rheumatoid arthritis that is attacking her organs. She has been in and out of the hospital, and relies on the health care law to help pay her medical bills.

Cancer survivor Tim Mork would not likely be able to get affordable health insurance because of his pre-existing condition.

These are just a couple of the hundreds of people contacting me.

On Jan. 15, thousands of supporters of the health care law gathered across the nation to rally Americans to voice their support of the Affordable Care Act, also commonly known as Obamacare.

In San Diego, I was joined by U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, local health care leaders and constituents to add our voices in support.

Both Elizabeth and Tim told their stories. But their fear was not just for themselves but also for others in the community who could lose heath care coverage.

In San Diego, 300,000 people get health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. More than 250,000 in our region have benefitted from the expansion of Medicaid.

These aren’t just statistics. These aren’t Democrats or Republicans. These are our neighbors. Our children. Our veterans.

The uninsured rate among veterans and children has fallen by half over the last six years.

Some people don’t realize that many veterans leave the service without guaranteed health insurance from the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. Who is going to make sure they get the care they need?

Repeal of the heath care law would have a devastating impact on the American people, not to mention our economy as a whole.

A recent report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that repeal would result in 18 million Americans losing their health care.

The CBO says the number of uninsured could reach 32 million over the next 10 years and that premiums would double over that time.

Repeal would affect all of us in another important way — hospitals, clinics and doctors stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars if the law is repealed.

The health care sector makes up 20 percent of the U.S. economy and a lot of jobs in the San Diego region. It doesn’t take an MBA to know that financial losses and uncertainty will hurt our economy and could impact quality of care.

The health care law is not perfect and there are no doubt things we can do to make it better to the benefit of the American people.

Democrats stand ready to work together to find areas of improvement. We are willing to look for ways to expand coverage to even more people as well as look for ways to lower premiums.

Right now, we simply do not have a willing partner in Congress. Congressional Republicans are focused on one task: repeal. And that’s unfortunate to the millions Americans for whom the Affordable Care Act is working.

Let’s put aside the politics and take a hard look at the human side of this issue. I think if more of my colleagues do that they will see that repeal is not the answer.

This editorial first appeared in San Diego Uptown News.

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