Letter: Trumpcare is a hazard to our health and our pocketbooks

Dear Editor:

Some members of Congress claim the American Health Care Act (AHCA) reduces healthcare costs relative to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). We are physicians and scholars from Hampton Roads who have examined healthcare policy, and we believe the AHCA ignores important cost-saving medical practices. As a result, it will actually increase America’s healthcare spending.

Affordable healthcare for citizens is not a “scheme” that is “flushing money down the toilet,” as U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia Beach, states. We save money when Americans take responsibility for their health through routine checkups, screenings and vaccines. Studies show America saves $13 on emergency room, inpatient and specialty care for every $1 invested in preventative care. When we spend $1 on maternity coverage, we save over three times that by reducing the number of pregnancy complications and premature births. The AHCA will weaken protections for preventative and maternity care and even encourage states to waive protections in exchange for special funds.

Taylor insists that the AHCA covers pre-existing conditions. But just because there will be plans out there for those with pre-existing conditions doesn’t mean that people will be able to afford them. Before the ACA, or Obamacare, many older Americans and those with preexisting conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes couldn’t afford insurance.

Nonpartisan estimates predict that under the AHCA we will see 24 million more uninsured citizens by 2026. No longer able to afford doctor’s visits, the uninsured will be forced to seek treatment in emergency rooms or wait until a catastrophic event or illness sends them there. By law, emergency rooms must treat everyone, every time they come in, even if they cannot pay. To recover these costs, insured patients end up with higher premiums and medical bills. Americans cannot afford these increased costs. Medical bills are already a leading cause of bankruptcy.

In passing the AHCA, Congress ignored pleas from over 50 well-known medical and health advocacy groups and even the AARP. These organizations are not “lying” or “attempting to scare our neighbors” as Taylor claims. Their expertise and concerns deserve Congress’ attention as they fix our healthcare system.

We agree that there is wasteful spending in healthcare and a need to bring down premiums for all. But the answer is not to cut the parts of the system that both save money and improve care for people. We spoke with Taylor directly about the economic benefits of making sure Americans can afford insurance and receive preventative care. Nevertheless, he voted for Trumpcare. “Leaders must act,” he says. He’s right. But leaders must act responsibly and thoughtfully, and they must understand the consequences of the legislation they support.

Dr. Leah C. Rowland, MD, FAAP, pediatrician

Dr. Audrey Malagon, PhD., associate professor of mathematics, Virginia Wesleyan College

Dr. Leslie A. Caughell, PhD., assistant professor and chair of the department of political science, Virginia Wesleyan College

Dr. Chris Maples, MD, emergency medicine physician

Dr. Kelly M. Maples, MD, FAAAAI, FACAAI, associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine, Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters

Ed. — U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia Beach, on Thursday, May 4, released the following statement regarding his vote to “repeal and replace” Obamacare. Taylor, who represents the 2nd Virginia Congressional District, mentions pre-existing conditions. The bill gives states leeway over protections for pre-existing conditions, according to media reports, though what passed in the house is expected to change in the U.S. Senate. Taylor’s statement does not address the 23 million Americans expected to lose healthcare over time, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office analysis completed weeks after Taylor and House Republicans cast their vote. The letter above was written before the CBO report, and it uses a different estimate of those who will lose their healthcare.

Taylor’s statement:

Leaders must act. Obamacare is failing. We cannot stand by and idly watch as out of pocket costs for millions of Americans and their families skyrocket and insurers pull out of individual markets in our states. [Aetna announced a pull out of Virginia yesterday and United the week before.] 

While we are far from a final piece of legislation, today we advanced the vessel that will rid us of D.C.-mandated healthcare, and we moved towards more patient focus. 

Everyday Americans are flushing money down the toilet in the biggest taxing scheme in the history of our nation. This legislation protects individuals with pre-existing conditions and does not exempt members or our staff from the same laws that everyone must comply with. 

The same people who told us we could keep our plans and doctors are attempting to scare our neighbors, saying pre-existing conditions are not covered. This is a lie. 

For all the above reasons and more, I was a yes vote. Leaders must act.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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