Editor’s Note: The following was transmitted by facsimile this evening to the offices of Dave Reichert, Greg Walden, Dan Newhouse, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. All of the aforementioned individuals represent portions of Washington and Oregon in the United States House of Representatives as Republicans. We are republishing this communication here on the Cascadia Advocate as an open letter.
Dear Representatives Reichert, McMorris Rodgers, Newhouse, and Walden:
Tomorrow, at the behest of Donald Trump, the House of Representatives is poised to vote on a bill that would eviscerate the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law seven years ago today by President Barack Obama.
We implore you to put the good of our region and our country before party and vote against this disastrous, ill-conceived legislation.
You may not have supported the Patient Protection Act or voted for it when it was before Congress in 2010, but it has been a lifesaver for countless Americans, including many of your own constituents. Despite glitches with its implementation, the law has helped millions of people gain access to sorely needed healthcare.
Many of the Americans who benefit most from the Patient Protection Act work long hours at multiple jobs, or are busy caring for ill relatives, or are raising their children. They simply do not have time to reach out to you to explain how passage of H.R. 1628 would hurt them. They do not have the means to employ professional lobbyists who can speak for them and advocate for them.
But they are precisely the people you should be thinking of as tomorrow’s vote approaches. Each one of them has a story.
Kandy Kimble of Kittitas County is one of the Pacific Northwesterners whose lives have been profoundly changed for the better by the Patient Protection Act.
“Self-employed for many years, she went without health insurance, planning to wait a few more years until she was eligible for Medicare,” explained Governor Jay Inslee’s office in a Medium post published shortly after the new year.
“In 2014, she had a health emergency when eight bleeding ulcers were found. A three-day hospital stay in intensive care resulted in a bill of almost $70,000. After she was discharged, she sought insurance coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder, the insurance exchange.”
“She was later diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition. Thanks to her insurance, she is able to receive the medication she needs and regularly visit with a cardiologist. Kandy will be eligible for Medicare this September.”
A few days ago, those of you representing districts in Washington received a letter from Governor Inslee and Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler warning that H.R. 1628 would be catastrophic for the Evergreen State.
- 700,000 people will lose coverage (600,000 through Medicaid, up to 100,000 in the individual health insurance market)
- The uninsured rate will go up from 5.8 percent to 15 percent — higher than before the ACA and higher than projections of ACA repeal with no replacement
- To cover those losing Medicaid coverage would cost the state $1.3 billion per year by 2023 ($1.8 billion by 2028)
- A new penalty is put in place when a consumer or patient tries to purchase insurance after a break in coverage.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) say the impact to the Beaver State will be similarly awful.
- Reduce coverage: As many as 465,000 Oregonians will lose health coverage, including approximately 80,000 next year. Oregon’s uninsured rate will triple from 5 percent to more than 15 percent.
- Reduce federal funding: To maintain Medicaid enrollment, we estimate the AHCA [Trumpcuts] would shift $190 million in costs to Oregon starting in 2020 approaching $1 billion in 2023. The cumulative cost shift would be $2.6 billion over the next six years.
- Reduce economic activity: [Trumpcuts] risks the loss of more than 23,300 health care jobs that were created in Oregon after the ACA was implemented.
But perhaps what is most damning about H.R. 1628 is that the Congressional Budget Office has calculated that H.R. 1628 would actually result in more people being uninsured than if the Patient Protection Act were simply repealed.
“One million more Americans would have health insurance with a clean repeal than with the Republican replacement plan, according to CBO estimates,” noted The New York Times’ Margot Sanger-Katz in a report published two days ago. This finding alone is reason enough to vote down this immoral, irresponsible legislation.
Research shows that Americans are resoundingly opposed to H.R. 1628.
Respected pollster Quinnipac reported today that 56% of respondents surveyed are opposed to Trumpcuts, with only 17% in favor. That’s a three-to-one margin. Every age demographic, gender, and ethnicity opposes the bill, Quinnipac says.
Your colleague Jaime Herrera-Beutler has already decided to vote no on H.R. 1628 as presently constituted. “In the final analysis, this bill falls short,” she declared in a statement released by her office today.
Your colleague Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania went even further with his appraisal.
“I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low-to-moderate income and older individuals,” he said, offering a blunt assessment.
Representatives, in medicine, there is an axiom that guides the work of doctors, nurses, and caregivers: First, do no harm. Trumpcuts woefully fails this precept and deserves to be rejected by the U.S. House.
On behalf of the board and staff of the Northwest Progressive Institute and in solidarity with the millions of Americans opposed to Trumpcuts, I urge you to put the people of our region and country first by voting NO on H.R. 1628.
Founder and executive director
Northwest Progressive Institute