U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: The Affordable Care Act protects millions yet it is under attack again

April 18, 2019

As you may know, the Trump administration is accelerating its efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act in federal court. I'd like to share with you some of the ways I and my Democratic colleagues are working to protect your health care and the expanded coverage and reduced costs the ACA has brought to millions of Americans.

It's been nearly nine years since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. Thanks to this landmark legislation, we've cut the uninsured share of the population by almost half; people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease can no longer be denied coverage or charged sky-high premiums; and in New Hampshire and other states hit hard by the opioid epidemic, people with substance use disorders have been able to get lifesaving treatment for the first time.

But despite this progress, Congressional Republicans have tried time-and-time again to repeal and sabotage our health care law. President Donald Trump refuses to make federal payments that keep premiums affordable; his administration allows insurers to sell 'junk' plans with very little coverage; and he has joined Republicans in Congress in trying to repeal the ACA in its entirety.

These attacks have driven up costs and destabilized the health care market. They’ve also created unnecessary fear among the millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, those who depend upon the ACA. Thankfully, despite their best efforts, the law remains in place; it has been upheld by the Supreme Court; and it continues to provide critical coverage for millions of Americans.

After yet another failed effort to repeal the law last year, Democrats and [even a few] Republicans hoped that we could finally move forward and put this chapter behind us. Sadly, it seems President Trump has other plans. The Trump administration recently called on federal courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. The administration is again working with its partisan allies to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

If the Trump administration’s latest effort succeeds, 20 million Americans would be stripped of their health insurance coverage; insurers would once again be able to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions; and seniors enrolled in Medicare would be forced to pay more for their prescription drugs.

I recently heard from a constituent in Keene; he left his job to launch a small business creating study materials for actuarial exams. His company is profitable and he expects to hire more employees within a year or two. He said, "None of this would have been possible without the ACA. If the ACA is repealed, I’m concerned that I’d need to put my business on hold in order to go back to a corporate job that I don’t need only to get the health-care benefits."

This is unacceptable. Congress can’t sit on the sidelines while the president tries to take away Americans’ health care. That’s why I led a resolution supported by every Senate Democrat that directs the Trump administration to reverse course and defend our health-care law. But defending the law is only the start.

Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care. And it’s time for Republicans in Congress to come together with Democrats to make health care more affordable. This includes reducing the amount that patients pay out of pocket. It also includes reducing the cost of medication, so that people with diseases like diabetes aren’t forced to ration life-saving insulin. And it includes expanding access to care, so that Americans can afford to see the doctor who is trained to treat them, even if that doctor is out-of-network.

It’s also critical that every American woman has access to reproductive care. For too long, partisans have been spreading misinformation about abortion and family planning services.

Instead of frightening patients, driving up costs, and taking health care away from people. Let’s move forward with bipartisan action - Republicans and Democrats working together - to ensure quality, affordable health care for every American.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen delivered the Weekly Democratic Address on April 12.


By:  Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Source: Berlin Daily Sun