Colorado Medical Societyhttp://www.cms.org/articles/thoughts-from-capitol-hill/
Thoughts from Capitol HillMonday, May 01, 2017 12:11 PM
Editor’s note: Neither senator responded to a request to submit a separate column to elaborate their views on health care reform.
CMS President-elect M. Robert Yakely, MD, expressed his concerns with the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the “repeal and replace” option for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as other concerns about federal health care reform, to Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner.
Below are their responses to Yakely, which detail their thoughts on the legislation and the effort to reform the U.S. health care system.
The Honorable Michael Bennet
Thank you for writing me about the American Health Care Act (AHCA). I strongly opposed this bill for a variety of reasons.
On March 6, 2017, Republicans in the House of Representatives introduced the Affordable Health Care Act. The bill included primarily age-based tax credits for purchasing health insurance from the individual market. The AHCA also proposed to alter Medicaid dramatically by ending the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion and placing caps on the program. These changes would threaten Medicaid benefits for children, disabled adults, and pregnant women in Colorado.
The AHCA passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee prior to receiving an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Once finalized, the CBO found that the proposal would result in loss of health care coverage for 24 million people by 2026. The report also concluded that nearly $840 billion would be cut from the Medicaid program. It also showed that the tax credits would be insufficient for older Americans who would face higher premiums under the bill.
As you may know, the ACA resulted in coverage for over 600,000 Coloradans. According to the Colorado Health Foundation, household earnings rose $600 a year and 31,000 jobs were created as a result of the Medicaid expansion.
I’ve said from the beginning that the ACA isn’t perfect and that we will need to continue to fix and improve the law. My office will continue to do everything it can to ensure that maintaining affordable health insurance becomes easier and more stable.
I remain committed to improving the ACA, and will continue to collaborate with Democrats and Republicans, to ensure that we can increase the number of people with health insurance while preserving important protections.
I value the input of fellow Coloradans in considering the wide variety of important issues and legislative initiatives that come before the Senate. I hope you will continue to inform me of your thoughts and concerns.
For more information about my priorities as a U.S. Senator, I invite you to visit my website at http://bennet.senate.gov/. Again, thank you for contacting me.
The Honorable Cory Gardner
Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform. I appreciate you taking the time to write. It is an honor to serve you in the United States Senate and I hope you will continue to write with your thoughts and ideas on moving our country forward.
On March 24, 2017, the House of Representatives elected to withdraw the American Health Care Act, their plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, without voting. This legislation intended to reform health care by eliminating taxes and mandates, expanding Health Savings Accounts, and implementing a monthly tax credit.
It is vital that any replacement plan offers states the flexibility they need, while also ensuring stability for Colorado’s sickest and most vulnerable patients, concerns I raised in a March 6, 2017 letter to Senate leadership. As conversations around repealing the failed Affordable Care Act continue, I remain committed to replacing it with common-sense reforms that control costs, expand access to care, and protect the doctor-patient relationship, while also ensuring a stable transition and flexibility for Medicaid populations.
I maintain my commitment to addressing the fundamental problem with health care in our nation: cost. In Colorado, and across the nation, families have faced significant premium increases. According to the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), the average premium in Colorado increased by 20.4 percent on the individual market in 2017. This unsustainable policy has motivated multiple insurers to remove their plans from the state health exchange for this plan year. As a direct result, 43 of the 64 counties in Colorado have two, or fewer, insurance carriers to choose from. This decrease in competition has had a dramatic impact on Coloradans’ ability to purchase insurance and access care. Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, over half a million Coloradans have lost their health insurance. Many Americans today choose not to visit the doctor or purchase necessary medication because they simply cannot afford to do so. This is unacceptable, particularly for individuals with preexisting conditions. Despite empty assurances that the Affordable Care Act would solve the rising cost of health care in this country, the price Coloradans are paying for necessary services has skyrocketed. In order to actually lower the cost of health care, I believe we need real free-market solutions, not tax increases.
Moving forward, I will continue to support policies that will the lower cost of health care while increasing the quality of care. Again, thank you for contacting me, and do not hesitate to do so again when an issue is important to you.