To the Editor:
Our senator, Susan Collins, is being praised for her attempt to mitigate the dire impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. She proposes to “repair the ACA and provide reforms at nearly the same time.” There is no evidence that her Republican colleagues or our new president have taken any practical steps to mitigate the precipitous actions they have already initiated.
While we here on Mount Desert Island are fortunate to have access to health care providers, many of our fellow Mainers do not. And for many here on the island and throughout the state, access to affordable care has been denied by Gov. Paul LePage’s and his Republican colleagues’ impractical refusal to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid, although the expansion would mean Mainers’ federal tax dollars returned to the state to help our most at-risk neighbors. President Trump’s scheme for block grant funding will put states like Maine, which rejected expansion, at a funding disadvantage.
The Affordable Care Act has been in place and opposed for many years. During this time, Republicans have reflexively voted to repeal it while uniformly refusing to craft repairs, reforms or replacements, until Sen. Collins’ current sketchy proposal.
Collins and her fellow Republicans disingenuously call their proposal The Patient Freedom Act. They claim that it will be “patient centered,” “provide more choices for consumers” and “allow them to proceed along a more creative route.”
In fact, through an administratively complicated and largely undefined scheme of three fundamental options, it pushes costs onto already cash-strapped states and individuals.
Republicans want to shrink federal government involvement in medical insurance to a bare minimum in hopes of completely privatizing health care. If these Republicans truly believe, as their actions demonstrate, that the federal government has no role in providing for health and well being, then they should just say so and stop putting rhetorical lipstick on the pig of unbridled selfishness.
The Republican agenda is to collect less tax revenue from the wealthy and force the rest of us pay a disproportionate share for essential services. When replicated at the state level by ideologues such as LePage and his cronies, it comes down to “Read my lips, you’re on your own, kid.”
“Patient freedom” and “patient-centered” mean increased patient costs.
For all the claims of more choice and more creative routes, expect more of us at the state and personal levels to be creatively choosing between health care and other necessities. And if painkillers are the only available and affordable treatment, then expect more opioid use. A cheap fix approach to health care is the gateway to addiction and crisis.
In order to pass The Affordable Care Act, many poison pills were added to ensure its failure. Over time, other intrinsic problems have been revealed. Why not just fix the problems? Why not a practical rather than a political solution? Why not some common sense and common decency?