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Stop the war on health care for Coloradans
By Ed Perlmutter
Perhaps no other issue defined the American political landscape last year as much as health care. After seven years of railing against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the GOP spent the entirety of 2017 repeatedly trying to repeal it, then — when all efforts failed — sabotage it. Now, in 2018, President Donald Trump has made renewed calls for repeal. But Coloradans have not forgotten how disastrous Trump’s first year in office has been for American health care.
At the very least, last year shows that any attempt to repeal the ACA by Trump and his GOP colleagues in Congress would have extreme repercussions. Their first effort, the American Health Care Act, would have spiked premiums by 15 to 20 percent for the average American and stripped health care coverage from 130 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions. Their “skinny repeal” plan, introduced in the Senate last June, would have increased the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million. Republicans’ last-ditch effort to repeal the ACA, the Graham-Cassidy bill, would have stripped health insurance from 32 million Americans.
Unsurprisingly, these attempts at repeal were met with extreme backlash. Coloradans made their voice heard in order to save their health care — which is, for many, a life or death issue. After all the bills ultimately failed, repeal efforts in Congress were shelved as many GOP leaders recognized it was time to move on.
However, the president continued to sabotage the ACA when he couldn’t repeal it. In spite of these efforts, Colorado’s health insurance marketplace remained almost as popular as ever, with over 167,000 Coloradans selecting plans during a shortened open enrollment period that ended a few weeks ago. Americans also 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.
Modeled after the failed Graham-Cassidy bill, the template under which Trump has called for renewed repeal efforts would strip health care from 468,000 Coloradans, slash $11 billion in funding for health care programs in Colorado, and spike premiums for those with pre-existing conditions.
These actions only harm hardworking families who rely on affordable, high-quality health coverage. These new calls show just how out of touch the administration is with the American people, who have voiced time and time again their disapproval of his repeal efforts. Though the president may not like to think so, the ACA is actually more popular than ever before; nearly 60 percent of voters think the ACA has been a good thing for the country and prefer to keep it in place, making necessary fixes to the law instead of repealing it. Improvements to the ACA could include increasing transparency and accountability in the health care market, addressing the high cost of prescription drugs, or creating more affordable insurance options while protecting consumers and expanding enrollment.
And after a year-long war on health care, it is now the top issue for voters in 2018. The president should focus on the numbers — the damage that’s been done, the support for the ACA, and the concern of the American people — and realize he is waging a losing battle with his new call for repeal. But his recent statements show otherwise, so it seems this battle will play out at the ballot box.
The president’s health care agenda has already inflicted too much damage in Colorado and the country. As representatives we are a voice for our constituents in Washington, and they are saying it’s time to stop the partisan war and attacks on health care. Enough is enough. Let’s start focusing on bipartisan solutions to improve the American health care system so it can continue to provide accessible and affordable health care for Coloradans and people across the country.
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is a Democrat and represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.Content originally published by The Denver Post on February 23, 208.