House Dems urge action against American Health Care Act

Attached is a letter signed by all 25 members of the House Democratic Caucus that was sent to Sen. Carper and Sen. Coons expressing their concern about the American Health Care Act and its impact on Delaware, and the entire country.

Dear Sens. Coons and Carper,

Cancer will destroy any adult or child’s immune system. Surgeons do not base a knee replacement on whether the joints belong to a Democrat or Republican.
Medical crises don’t discriminate. Health care coverage shouldn’t either. Health care should be a right, not a privilege.
That’s why we write with great urgency about the American Health Care Act of 2017, which presents a misguided and detrimental attempt to “reform” our health care system. We urge you to continue to fight for the right of every Delawarean to have quality health care, and to oppose any effort that does not make that access a priority.

Under this faulty “repeal and replace” proposal, health care coverage would be less accessible and hurt those with pre-existing conditions by making coverage unaffordable while marginalizing low-income, older Americans, the people who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act the most.
Reforming our nation’s health care system is a serious task, but it is one that should be done with great attention and sensibility. It should not be executed in a way that smothers the average working family in medical debt and rewards society’s high-earners.

This is a proposal that could have devastating impacts reaching families of all demographics and backgrounds. In Delaware, the numbers are staggering. About 100,000 people could be impacted by potential changes under the American Health Care Act, and that is without taking into account any impacts to an estimated 160,000 Delawareans with pre-existing conditions.

In just one year, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 14 million more people will be without health insurance. By 2026, that number would reach 23 million.

Hardworking Americans who should be looking forward to retirement would face higher health expenses. If they get sick – tough luck – the cost increases even more. Health coverage would not likely include maternity or rehabilitation services, or addiction and mental health treatment, even as the opioid epidemic devastates the country. Additionally, if the Medicaid expansion created under the Affordable Care Act is reverted, 11,000 Delawareans could lose their coverage.

We acknowledge that Delaware has had its share of challenges when it comes to health care reform, and that the ACA is not a perfect law. However, we have been diligently working to improve coverage and vital health services throughout the state that look to heal our residents so they may go on to pursue successful and fulfilling lives in the First State. The initiatives include:

  •  Improving access to postpartum depression resources. We have to erase the stigma around maternal depression. Asking for help doesn’t make you a bad mother. Health professionals in Delaware are now required to provide women with information on postpartum depression if they are showing signs and symptoms of the disease.
  •  Expanding access to substance abuse treatment. People who are struggling with addiction shouldn’t be shunned or face barriers to treatment. Addiction is a disease, just like cancer and diabetes, and should be considered as one when it comes to medical treatment. A recent package of bills gives community stakeholders and families the tools to combat Delaware’s opioid epidemic and get more people into treatment.
  •  Removing barriers to innovative cancer therapies. Metastatic cancer patients don’t deserve to suffer in their time of need or be forced to fail a series of treatments before they get the one they actually need. House and Senate leadership have introduced legislation that helps patients have a clearer path to FDA-approved treatments consistent with the best practices for stage 4 metastatic cancer treatment.
  •  Empowering women to make their own health care decisions. Reproductive health decisions are personal and should have no bearing on business decisions made by a person’s employer. Those decisions are between an employee and her partner and should not face negative repercussions in the workplace. Current Delaware law prohibits employee discrimination based on a worker’s reproductive health choices.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue – in some cases we are talking about the ability to increase someone’s quality of life or causing them undue suffering through fights with insurance companies or drowning in high out-of-pocket prescription costs.

Health care coverage is a right; it should not be a luxury, and we must fight for that right for every Delawarean. We ask that you continue to do the same in Congress.

Sincerely,

Rep. David Bentz        Peter C. Schwartzkopf        Valerie J. Longhurst
State Representative    Speaker of the House       House Majority Leader

John J. Viola              Paul S. Baumbach            Andria L. Bennett
House Majority Whip    State Representative         State Representative

Stephanie T. Bolden     Gerald L. Brady               William J. Carson
State Representative    State Representative         State Representative

Debra J. Heffernan         Earl G. Jaques              James Johnson
State Representative     State Representative      State Representative

Quinton Johnson           Helene M. Keeley           John A. Kowalko Jr.
State Representative     State Representative      State Representative

Sean M. Lynn              Sean Matthews              J. Larry Mitchell
State Representative    State Representative      State Representative

Michael P. Mulrooney     Edward S. Osienski        W. Charles Paradee III
State Representative    State Representative       State Representative

Charles Potter Jr.         Bryon H. Short               Melanie George Smith
State Representative    State Representative        State Representative

Kimberly A. Williams
State Representative