Vail Kozatch: We must come together on health care | SteamboatToday.com

Vail Kozatch: We must come together on health care

The American Medical Association said that the failed Graham-Cassidy health care bill violated the Hippocratic Oath of "first do no harm." Obviously, our senators have never taken this oath.

Was any professional association with credibility in favor of this bill? No. What on earth did these senators think they were doing? Why would such an ill-informed group of people be responsible for writing a health bill of such great importance to the American people? How could our system have gone so awry?

Each version of “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act has been worse than the one before with Graham-Cassidy being the most heinous yet. That bill did not make it to a vote but the White House has already warned that the fight is not over and will resume as soon as the Senate can again pass something with only 51 votes.

It is safe to assume the next version will go even further than Graham-Cassidy. That bill would have dismantled much of the ACA by giving block grants to states thereby causing major issues for state budgets.

It would have cut coverage and raised premiums and out-of-pocket costs for millions. It ended Medicaid expansion and slashed Medicaid spending. It allowed states to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions. It eliminated Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood for one year (pre-natal care, mammograms, long-acting contraceptives).

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the state of Colorado would have lost $2.3 billion between 2020 and 2026. No federal funds were committed to states beyond 2026. The Center for American Progress estimated that by 2027, 468,000 fewer Coloradans would have been insured.

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The Colorado Hospital Association opposed this bill as did virtually every other health care association in the United States including the American Public Health Association and the entire insurance industry. Blue Cross Blue Shield said the bill would increase uncertainty in the marketplace, make coverage more expensive and jeopardize choice of health plans.

The American Public Health Association called the new bill "devastating." Locally, our own Northwest Colorado Health, Mindsprings Health, South Routt Medical Center, our two nursing homes and our hospital would have been negatively affected. The AARP said the bill would increase health care costs for older Americans, decrease coverage and threaten coverage for individuals in nursing homes.

The list of prominent medical associations opposing the bill went on and on: The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the HIV Medicine Association, The Alzheimer's Association, the American Cancer Society, the National Association for Medicaid Directors, the American Hospital Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Children's Hospital Association and the Public Health Institute.

The Republicans are in charge, and it is past time for them to step up to the plate to actually fix health care rather than rely on a catchy campaign phrase. Democrats and all major public health organizations must be involved.

A bill needs to be designed that has broad consensus across the political and public health spectrums, a bill that brings about the objective of improved public health and more, not less, access to quality health care for all.

Vail Kozatch

Clark

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