I write in response to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton’s commentary in the March 12 issue.
Tipton indicated that health care was a key topic on the minds of his constituents. He stated that many families are facing deductibles greater than $6,000. He “hear(s) from people that they can say they are insured, but they can’t afford to use their health insurance or find providers in their communities who will accept additional Medicare or Medicaid patients."
Can he provide facts rather than anecdotes about our congressional district? What is the average deductible now? How has it changed in recent years? How is the proposed American Health Care Act going to address this concern about deductibles? How will reducing the number of people covered by insurance in Colorado reduce anyone’s deductible?
The Affordable Care Act created two taxes to fund the program. People subject to these taxes have incomes in the top 5 percent of U.S. households. Repealing them is a $275 billion benefit to the richest Americans during the next 10 years. In this district, there are 284,000 households and, at most, about 10,000 are subject to these taxes. The Congressional Budget Office released its “score” of the AHCA, and it is expected to save $337 billion. This must mean that the AHCA results in more htan $600 billion in reduced federal health care funding through the next 10 years. How will this make health care more affordable?
Of the more than 700,000 people in this district, approximately 300,000 have public health coverage. How many of those people are going to lose access to medical care because the AHCA will roll back Medicaid in states like Colorado? How much more will it ultimately cost because these people do not get preventative medicine? We know that, in the past, poor Americans who did not have health insurance often used emergency rooms to get access to health care. When these patients could not pay, taxpayers ended up funding their care. If the 76,000 people in our congressional district who became eligible for Medicaid as a result of the ACA expansion lose access under the AHCA, what will be the cost to local hospitals? How much more will it cost to treat patients who did not have access to preventative medical care? Saving $600 billion by defunding insurance could mean higher future medical costs, which are likely to be borne by taxpayers.
The ACA limits premiums on seniors to no more than three times the lowest premium for the young. AHCA permits insurers to charge seniors five times as much.
There are 106,972 people — 14.5 percent — in the 3rd Congressional District between the ages of 55 and 64. This will affect them. There are 737,812 total people in the district. Some have a high insurance subsidy (14,932) or Medicaid expansion (76,939) for a total of 91,872, or 12.5 percent, of residents in the district who will probably lose coverage.
As Tipton noted, “In its current form, the AHCA is not perfect.” But before you repeal, your constituents deserve a clear understanding of what a replacement means for them. The CBO also estimated that the AHCA would result in 24 million Americans losing coverage. If the consequence of repeal and replace is that thousands of people in this district go back to being uninsured, and the ultimate burden of caring for those who become ill falls on emergency rooms and over-burdened local hospitals, no one will be better off.
When can we expect a clear evaluation of the consequences of the AHCA to the people of this district?