Opinion: North Country still needs Affordable Care Act, says Canton resident
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 8:10 am

To the Editor:

Now that many more regular folks realize that ObamaCare is the same ACA that gives them the relatively decent care which is currently under political attack in Washington, Town Hall meetings across America are either being avoided or else embarrassingly endured by politicians. Regular folks are giving politicians a powerful earful concerning what President Trump and House Speaker Ryan propose to do to our evolving health care system.

It is an understatement to say that the ACA/ObamaCare was imperfectly formed, but it was at that time the politically-best-way-possible to deal with our most expensive system (1 in 6 dollars in the entire US economy) reaching so shamefully few Americans. That is why ObamaCare (barely and in spite of all the money spent to prevent it) made it into law. And it is the Law-of-the-Land now, thank goodness, and increasingly appreciated as such.

We in the North Country live in a respectfully Republican-dominated area, realizing that this area is the least populated and most financially underprivileged in one of America's most powerful and beautiful states, New York of course. To stay this way, our North Country working class needs health care to remain substantial. However, Mr. Trump is threatening to make our health care far less substantial.

He threatened this week to actively encourage big businesspeople of the health insurance industry across America to drop out of states' ACA health care systems. He made this and other threats to our health care system in an attempt to coercively force Democrats to vote against their own creation. The ACA was designed to be initiated roughly but to then be refined and further refined over time. He needs Congressional Democrats because his furthest-right-wing Republicans don't want any financial help being given toward health care for anyone as a quote-unquote "entitlement." He is also stuck in needing Democrats because moderate Republicans refuse to take as much health care funding away from Americans as President Trump and House Speaker Ryan proposed in their "repeal-replace" American Health Care Act (AHCA).

I'm writing the Editors again to encourage our North Country conversations to keep a focus on what we stand to lose, and then to fight to keep our families' health care needs as affordable and substantial as possible. Numerous reliable sources of health care system analysis, including Congress' own non-partisan Accounting Office, all agree that the Trump-Ryan AHCA would hike health care prices and greatly reduce access, allowing insurers to kick out Americans with pre-existing conditions and to strip basic coverage down to skeletal levels, all while giving tax cuts to the rich which would greatly increase the national debt we all must bear for generations to come.

We are "working class" in every way here in the North Country, Republican or Democrat. We're smart and we are fully aware of what our families need in the way of functional health care. I must quickly emphasize that insurance-free, single-payer "Medicare-for-All" would clearly do the best in solving the primary problem of getting the hands of insurance industry fat-cat middlemen out of this enormous health-care economy (remember: 1 in 6 of every American dollar going to it, with quite a few of those 1-in-6 dollars going to pay insurance industry corporate paper-pushers, their executives' obscenely huge salaries, and their stock-shareholders who want these corporations to take more and give less, in no way sharing the interests of average Americans). One wisp of recent news is that Medicare-for-All was solidly proposed by a small group in our NY State Assembly! There was very little news coverage, unfortunately.

But, all that aside, please recognize what damage Trump/Ryan would do and please do speak up to prevent it from happening, like we can clearly see now in Town Halls across the country. It is so easy, too easy to break things. We need to fix ObamaCare as soon and as well as we can. Let's only do that, though. Let's talk about it among each other publicly, among our families, etc. -- and then let's hold firm against the politicians who want "wins" for themselves even when their "wins" are at dire expenses to our families' health care needs.

Scott Blankenship