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New health care proposal wrong for country

Another scary health care proposal is on the fast-track in Congress and needs to be stopped quickly. After voting “no” on the most recent “repeal-and-replace” bill, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., encouraged members of Congress to quit playing childish partisan games with people’s health, and that the two parties sit down and craft a health care proposal everyone can live with, and will help the greatest number of Americans possible. Along these lines, Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., have been working on a package of improvements to the current health care law which would have the potential to do just that.

Apparently all that is out the window now, as a new threat to our health care system called Graham-Cassidy bill, has reared its ugly head. It is a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut the Medicaid program. Some of the features of this bill would:

  1. Allow insurers to charge individuals with pre-existing conditions more money for health coverage.
  2. Severely restrict the Medicaid program for poor and elderly Americans, effectively a severe cut, which would threaten vulnerable Americans and health providers who serve them.
  3. Cut funding for Medicaid expansion in 25 states and redirect it toward other states which chose not to implement Medicaid expansion when they had the chance. This will effectively take health coverage away from 20,000 North Dakotans who formerly “fell through the cracks,” and millions nationwide.
  4.  Cut funding that enables low-wage workers and moderate-income families to buy health insurance, making it impossible for millions of Americans to afford health coverage.
  5.  Repeal the mandate that employers of a certain size have to offer health insurance to their employees.

This bill will be voted on by Sept. 30, and there will be no opportunity for public input, hearings or testimony.

This is an entirely wrong approach to “fixing” our broken health care system, and in fact will make things much worse. Our local hospital CEO recently said the Medicaid expansion program alone has helped to cut JRMC’s bad debt write-offs to a fraction of what they were. Taking coverage away from thousands of people means that those of us who have health insurance will pay higher premiums to make up the difference for those who cannot pay their medical bills.

We know the real reason for this bill is political pressure to repeal the “hated” Obamacare program, even if it means hurting millions. Please contact Sen. John Hoeven and urge him to resist the intense pressure to vote in favor of this poorly drafted bill, and vote “no” for the good of North Dakotans. Congress must once and for all start to put people before party.