OPINION:

Enough with the partisan politics; people want health care solutions

Mon, Feb 12, 2018 (2 a.m.)

Congressional Republicans spent the entirety of 2017 trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Each effort was made strictly along partisan lines, with no expert input and almost no hearings or healthy debate.

Republicans’ first attempt at repeal — the American Health Care Act — would have spiked premiums by 15-20 percent for the average American in 2018 and 2019. Repeal of the ACA would also have stripped health care coverage from 130 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions.

The “skinny repeal” plan introduced in the Senate last June would have increased the number of uninsured by 22 million by 2026 in comparison with current law. Republicans made a last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA in September with the Graham-Cassidy bill — which would have stripped health insurance from 32 million Americans.

While Congress was hastily trying — and failing — to repeal the ACA, the Trump administration got to work sabotaging the law. President Donald Trump threatened to withhold vital cost-sharing reduction payments from insurers, cut the open enrollment period in halfand reduced the ACA’s advertising budget by 90 percent.

Meanwhile, as Republicans were wrapped up in their partisan, back-door dealings to repeal and sabotage health care, the rate of uninsured in the U.S. rose. In 2017, the percentage of uninsured Americans increased to 12.2 percent — a 1.3 point increase from the record low of 10.9 percent recorded in 2016.

That amounts to 3.2 million Americans who became uninsured in the first year of the Trump administration.

Republicans put partisan politics ahead of the health and well-being of Americans last year, and more than 3 million people lost health coverage as a result.

Enough is enough. It’s time to lead.

Republicans’ efforts to sabotage the ACA ignored an important voice: that of the American people. The ACA is more popular than ever, with 57 percent of adults saying that the continuation of the law would be a good thing for the country.

The American people signed up for health coverage through the ACA in record-breaking numbers — an obvious show of support for the law despite the administration’s endless attempts to undermine enrollment at healthcare.gov. Americans realize the ACA isn’t perfect, but they don’t want it repealed — they want it improved. This can only succeed if it is done across the aisle.

Approximately 48 percent of Americans said health care was their No. 1 voting issue in a recent Associated Press-NORC poll. Voters opposed Republican health care repeal bills by 17 points, and they were 47 percent less likely to support representatives who voted to repeal the law.

An overwhelming concern for health care propelled Democrats to victories in elections across the country last year — from Virginia to Alabama and even a deep-red state Senate district in Wisconsin. Health care isn’t just the most important issue in this year’s midterm elections — it’s a winning issue.

In 2018, our representatives in Washington must put aside petty partisan politics that distract from tackling important issues. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., must stand up for us, his constituents, and lead his party by demanding that any changes to our country’s health care system are done in a bipartisan fashion — not through sneaky partisan loopholes.

Hardworking Nevadans don’t care about partisan agenda items; they want Congress to come together to address the issues that matter most to their families. It’s long past time Congress listens.

Andres Ramirez is Nevada director for the Alliance for Healthcare Security.

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