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Senior Spectrum Newspaper
August 2018
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Senior Spectrum Publications

Opinion
by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
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Republican Sabotage of the ACA Hurts Vulnerable Nevada Populations 

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto

Last month, a coalition of conservative groups released an outline of a new plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare. The plan is strikingly similar to the failed Graham-Cassidy bill that proposed the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, ended insurance premium subsidies and gutted protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Despite the overwhelming unpopularity and repeated failure of similar repeal bills in the U.S. Senate, President Trump is taking his own measures to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. Along with Republicans in Congress, he has fought to derail widely popular programs that keep children, older Americans and those with complex medical needs out of bankruptcy and allow them to access the health services they need.

President Trump and the GOP’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act are already having real impacts on the lives of Nevadans. President Trump and congressional Republicans’ decision to repeal the individual mandate and allow for the creation of junk health insurance plans are both designed to take young, healthy Americans out of the insurance risk pools, creating smaller pools of sicker patients that will raise costs for everyone.

This Administration continues to target Nevada’s most vulnerable populations. The Department of Justice recently announced it would abandon defending the Affordable Care Act in court, refusing to stand up for the millions of Americans protected from discrimination because of pre-existing medical conditions. Over 1.2 million Nevadans have pre-existing conditions, including over 40 percent of all adults aged 50-64. Common pre-existing conditions impacting older Americans range from asthma and anxiety, to diabetes and cancer diagnoses. Without the ACA’s protections, children born with life-threatening conditions will once again be at risk of losing their insurance simply because of their diagnosis, and older Americans will be forced to pay much more for the same basic coverage.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this Administration has also raided the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund to pay for tax give-a-ways to major corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The Republican tax law reduces revenues for the Fund, which will likely be unable to pay full benefits to millions of seniors in 2026, three years earlier than previously predicted.

I’m first to admit that the ACA is not perfect. Yet since its inception, over 400,000 Nevadans have gained healthcare coverage, including over 158,000 Nevada children. More than 453,000 seniors on Medicare have gained access to free preventative care. Over 1.2 million Nevadans with preexisting conditions were guaranteed that insurance companies would no longer deny them coverage because they deemed them “too risky” to cover. At-risk populations across the state, including children, seniors and those with disabilities were provided much-needed protections.

The solution to fixing inefficiencies within our healthcare system doesn’t start with stripping affordable healthcare from millions of Nevadans, or endangering the ability of vulnerable Nevadans to see their doctors. That’s why I’m the cosponsor of several bills in the Senate that offer real solutions for our healthcare system, including the Marketplace Certainty Act, which would stabilize healthcare markets and lower premium costs by expanding eligibility for cost-sharing reductions.

My job as your Senator is to make sure the interests of Nevadans are at the heart of every decision I make, which is why I am more committed than ever to fighting to reverse the effects of this Administration’s cruel efforts to sabotage your access to healthcare.

I will continue to work hard to improve the ACA, make health insurance premiums more affordable, stabilize the insurance market, lower prescription drug costs for seniors and ensure coverage for all Nevadans.