Don't Repeal the ACA, Improve It

The following was published in the Cascadia Weekly (April 5, 2017) and in both the Anacortes American and Skagit Valley Herald (on March 8, 2017).

Affordable Care Act should be saved

The public is right, and the president and the Republicans in Congress are wrong. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, is a success, not the disaster some Republicans claim.

From Washington to Florida, Arkansas to Idaho, people are making it clear in town hall meetings and in marches and demonstrations that they want to keep the ACA.

They want to keep it because the ACA has stabilized health care insurance, prevented medical bankruptcies and expanded coverage to many millions of people who previously had none, thus saving tens of thousands of lives (43,000 per year, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, reported in the Washington Post).

The public obviously knows that a universal health care plan that needs improvement is far, far better than the chaotic, usurious health insurance marketplace that existed prior to the ACA, a “system” still favored by some in D.C.

The ACA remains a political football, but reality is setting in. The president recently stated, to his seeming amazement, that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” (NYT, Feb. 27) I’m not sure how that remained a secret for so long. Republicans in the House and Senate still have no plan, making it more and more difficult to pretend that they can “repeal and replace.”

Can the ACA stand improvement? Absolutely. A “public option” would greatly improve it. A “Medicare for all” plan would be even better. Bernie Sanders has it right.

The ACA is a first step toward health care becoming a right of all citizens.

The ACA is a landmark because it regulates health care markets to make universal care, not profits, the first priority. People who receive that care understand this. The president and the Republicans should let the people have their way.

Mark Lundsten