Im­prov­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - ByCon­gress­wom­anRosa DeLauro

Se­nate Repub­li­cans failed to pass any of their health­care re­peal bills be­fore leav­ing for re­cess.

De­spite their re­lent­less cam­paign to strip work­ing fam­i­lies of their health­care, Se­nate Repub­li­cans failed to pass any of their health­care re­peal bills be­fore leav­ing for re­cess. This was a vic­tory brought on by the ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans who fought to pro­tect their care. Now, we have the op­por­tu­nity to write the next chapter on health­care in this coun­try: one char­ac­ter­ized by bi­par­ti­san co­op­er­a­tion and re­forms that make cov­er­age more af­ford­able for peo­ple.

We know that the Repub­li­can pro­pos­als to re­peal and re­place the ACA would have been a dis­as­ter. It would un­ravel pro­tec­tions for pa­tients with pre­ex­ist­ing con­di­tions. It would elim­i­nate cov­er­age for es­sen­tial health ben­e­fits, such as pre­scrip­tion drug cov­er­age, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion, and preg­nancy, ma­ter­nity cov­er­age. It would make health­care un­af­ford­able by rais­ing pre­mi­ums and de­ductibles.

In­stead of pur­su­ing a re­peal, we ought to work to­gether to re­form the cur­rent sys­tem and fix the prob­lems that ex­ist. But we can­not leave the Amer­i­can peo­ple be­hind in the process. We need to sta­bi­lize the mar­ket­places and en­sure there are af­ford­able, high-qual­ity cov­er­age op­tions for ev­ery Amer­i­can.

We need to bring down the cost of pre­mi­ums and de­ductibles. To do that, we need to re­duce the un­cer­tainty and un- pre­dictabil­ity in the in­sur­ance mar­ket­places by pre­serv­ing the Cost-Shar­ing Re­duc­tion pay­ments and cre­at­ing a new rein­sur­ance pro­gram. And we need to bring down the price of pre­scrip­tion drugs, which are driv­ing up in­sur­ance rates.

I am deeply dis­turbed by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s at­tempts to sab­o­tage the Af­ford­able Care Act. The non-par­ti­san Kaiser Fam­ily Foun­da­tion found that the mixed sig­nals be­ing sent by the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion has cre­ated un­cer­tainty “far out­side the norm” which will lead to dou­ble-digit pre­mium in­creases. Pres­i­dent Trump has also re­peat­edly threat­ened to un­der­mine the ACA mar­ket­places—in­clud­ing cutting off the cost shar­ing re­duc­tion pay­ments. Th­ese pay­ments were cre­ated to re­duce out of pocket ex­penses for those with mod­er­ate in­comes.

If th­ese sub­sides were taken away, many fam­i­lies would no longer be able to af­ford their pre­mi­ums, de­ductibles, and co­pay­ments. Some in­sur­ers would with­draw from the mar­ket, forc­ing pre­mi­ums to sky­rocket. Con­gress must act to make sure th­ese pay­ments are made to en­sure that fam­i­lies can af­ford their care.

To lower pre­mi­ums and de­ductibles, we should cre­ate ro­bust rein­sur­ance pro­grams in order to help in­sur­ers man­age the risk of in­sur­ing en­rollees with high med­i­cal ex­penses. The Af­ford­able Care Act cre­ated a tem­po­rary rein­sur­ance pro­gram when the bill was passed. Since that pro­gram ex­pired, pre­mi­ums have in­creased, mak­ing it clear that we need a per­ma­nent rein­sur­ance pro­gram, sim­i­lar to what con­gress cre­ated for Medi­care Part D.

To­day, pre­scrip­tion drug prices are ex­or­bi­tantly high, driv­ing up in­sur­ance rates. Con­gress needs to act to lower ex­ces­sive drug prices so that peo­ple can af­ford the treat­ments they need. I have in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a drug price re­view board. Enacting this leg­is­la­tion would be an ef­fec­tive first step in rein­ing in ex­ces­sive costs.

We can­not put more Amer­i­can fam­i­lies in jeop­ardy by rais­ing the cost of health­care. We need a coun­try and a health­care sys­tem that works for the mid­dle class and the vul­ner­a­ble, not just the wealthy and those with the most lob­by­ists. We can and should find com­mon ground on health­care — but we need to put the Amer­i­can peo­ple first in this process.

FILE PHOTO

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, at the Cor­nell Scott Hill Health Cen­ter in New Haven speak­ing with Demetrio De­la­holz and his wife, Lola, of West Haven as they signed up for health care.

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