Letter to the Editor: Protect Yourself

As I think about all the talk about “Repealing and Replacing” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), I am often confused. Because this is important for all Americans, we deserve to have it explained in helpful language. We need to protect ourselves against misinformation. Maybe this decoder can help.

What is meant by a “Block grant for Medicaid?” Currently, anyone who is eligible for Medicaid anywhere in the country can enroll and get care. Turning that program into a block grant to the states ends the national coverage and turns it into a state system. If you are out of state when you need treatment the rules affecting you will be the rules of the state you are visiting, not your home state. Maybe you are visiting a state that has less favorable requirements? Or maybe you are living in a state that has less favorable requirements?

“Health savings accounts” are tied to high-deductible insurance plans with minimum deductibles of $2,600 for family coverage. If you are a family with a modest annual income, a deductible of $2,600 may be unaffordable.

The term “High-risk pools” refers to insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. This approach has been tried in 35 states and it has failed. If you or a family member have a preexisting condition, your premium could approach $1,000 a month or $12,000 per year with a per-capita lifetime cap as low as $75,000.

The term “per-capita lifetime cap for Medicaid” means that when you reach the cap, an arbitrary limit will be imposed on your health care. Such limits could [mean high deductibles, high premiums,] also lead to elimination of benefits like prescription drugs or maternity care, and more.

The terms “Medicare privatization” or “premium support” mean turning Medicare over to profit-motivated insurance corporations. Instead of guaranteed coverage, you will get a voucher to shop for private insurance. There is no guarantee the voucher will be enough for the same level of coverage Medicare provides – or any coverage at all in a political environment prone to reduce regulations on insurance companies.

Mr. Trump has said he’d allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. But he recently disavowed that promise after meeting with drug corporation lobbyists. His new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, is a drug corporation insider, so the backtracking is no surprise.

Don’t be fooled by the buzzwords. Write or call your representative now before Medicare as we know it is destroyed.

Judy Brodd

Sister Bay, Wis.