An open letter to congressman John Moolenaar — Letters to the Editor in the Argus Press January 30, 2017
By Stephanie Zacharda, one of our new members of the Shiawassee County Democratic Party
Posted: Monday, January 30, 2017 10:59 am
Congressman John Moolenaar, R-Midland, I would like to thank you for selecting Owosso for one of your listening sessions and to let you know I enjoyed the opportunity to address some of my concerns.
As a constituent of yours, I feel like it is my duty to hold you to your word. I and many other of your constituents are disappointed you voted in favor of the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. You suggested Congress has a replacement plan, but without anything concrete, I can’t help but feel fearful and skeptical.
At the listening session, I voiced my concern about the repeal of the ACA. My experience working in the Michigan public health sphere has allowed me the chance to see how the ACA has worked, as well as where it could be improved. In holding you to your word, that the GOP will put forth a comparable replacement health care system, I urge you to ensure there is a comprehensive and inclusive replacement that will meet the needs of millions of people.
The ACA allowed for Medicaid expansion. Michigan elected to expand Medicaid, which has successfully provided health coverage to 600,000 Michiganders. In your district alone there are more than 30,000 constituents enrolled in the Healthy Michigan Plan (this is the name for Michigan’s expanded Medicaid coverage). Those 30,000 beneficiaries deserve to know what your plan is to ensure that they do not lose health coverage or see a degradation of their health coverage with the repeal of the ACA.
What I expect, and what your Healthy Michigan Plan constituents should demand, in a replacement are: Children should be able to remain on their parents insurance until age 26; preventative care should be covered at 100 percent with no deductible or co-insurance; pre-existing conditions should not be a case to deny coverage or make those individuals pay an extraordinarily high premium; reproductive health care should be covered 100 percent; affordable prescription coverage with reasonable co-pays; and premiums that are affordable based on income.
I do not accept Health Savings Accounts (HSA) as a viable solution within the replacement of the ACA. Many families are living paycheck to paycheck, there is no extra money to set aside. HSA’s have a maximum limit that you can contribute in a year, which will not even come close to covering a serious accident or medical condition.
Congress should also consider the cost of repealing and replacing the ACA. The Healthcare.gov website alone cost millions of dollars to develop and implement. Don’t forget the policy implications that required Federal, State, and local health care systems, organizations, and providers to alter their operational efforts. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems that currently comply with the ACA will need to be altered. Medical providers will have to re-train staff, policy analysts will have to re-do all of the work that was completed for the ACA implementation. It is wasteful to remove a system that works (and could be improved) just to try something new. Taxpayer money should not be spent simply because one political party wants the upper hand.
I urge you to make sure the Medicaid system does not transition to a block grant. If Michigan Medicaid went to a block grant, the state would receive a limited amount of funding regardless of the number of Medicaid enrollees and regardless of the cost of providing care. In this scenario, the state would be responsible to pay for the additional cost that was not covered by federal funds and the block grant. To consider a Medicaid block grant is placing low-income families and children at risk and places more pressure on the state to come up with money that was not budgeted for.
Health care is a right that every human deserves to have. There is a foundation made up of preventative care, routine visits, and Rx that each individual should be able to have without worrying about bankruptcy. When you hear complaints about health care costs, review the CEO salaries of insurance and pharmaceutical companies and recognize they are making millions off of someone’s illness. It is simply unethical.
I ask you to support an ACA replacement that protects Michigan residents. Our Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, made it a point to meet with U.S. senators last week to explain how successful the Healthy Michigan Plan has been for our state and that it can be a national model for saving money and providing necessary health care.