Defend health coverage

DEAR EDITOR:

During the entirety of 2017, the GOP Congress sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act, ACA, at every turn. Throughout, even as they introduced and voted on proposals that would spike premiums and leave millions uninsured, there has been almost universal agreement on one thing — consumer protections for those with pre-existing conditions should remain in place.

Millions of Americans resisted these attempts and pressed for improvements to the access and affordability of health care in this country. We marched and rallied, wrote letters to the editor, visited our representatives, wrote postcards, held forums, tweeted and poured our hearts out with personal stories of what the health care gains have meant to us and our families. And some from this Valley were even arrested in the halls of Congress pressing the case.

Also, here in this Valley, the city councils of Youngstown, Warren, Girard and Hubbard stood up for our communities and passed resolutions appealing to Congress to defend against any attacks on health care benefits. Together we defeated powerful monied interests that sought to roll back gains on health care benefits. Three attempts in Congress and two executive orders did not succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act. The people spoke and finally Congress discontinued the various attempts at outright appeal.

Earlier this month, like a bad dream that keeps reappearing, Trump’s own Department of Justice, along with 20 Republican state attorneys general, asked the courts to strike down key provisions in the Affordable Care Act. The DOJ and their conservative attorney general cohorts specifically attacked the provision banning insurance companies from denying coverage or charging people more because of a pre-existing condition — the Affordable Care Act’s most popular reform.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration proposed to expand short-term junk plans, which are not required to cover people with pre-existing conditions. A report found that “oversight of the short-term market at the state level is limited, and protections for people with preexisting conditions are largely nonexistent.”

All of these actions put American adults with pre-existing conditions — as many as 130 million people — at grave risk. This number includes 4.8 million Ohioans, and in our Congressional district (the 13th) 287,000 who could be denied coverage or charged exorbitant amounts that price them out of the health care market as a result of these disastrous GOP and Trump administration policies.

Americans with pre-existing conditions deserve access to affordable, comprehensive coverage and we all need to use our voice and our vote to continue standing up and demanding our representatives in Congress protect our families.

KAREN ZEHR

Valley Voices United for Change

Warren

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