COLUMN: Progress on Repairing America’s Health Care
Throughout my time representing the people of Central Washington in the U.S. Congress, constituents from across the 4th District have shared with me their deeply personal stories about the struggles and hardships they’ve faced under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.
In late 2016, a gentleman from Yakima wrote me in distress as his insurance provider was pulling out of his county: “My wife and I are losing our healthcare coverage. Our financial lives are about to radically change and a literal risk to our health is upon us. The challenge to find affordable, acceptable healthcare insurance will be immense.”
In early 2015, a woman from Grandview wrote to describe her dire situation after being forced onto the ACA exchange: “I was paying $231 a month for a policy that had a $500 deductible with a $10 co-pay.” However, under the ACA, she said her healthcare costs skyrocketed: “I now pay $475 a month for a policy that has a $5,500 deductible. This is not affordable healthcare. It is the middleclass American who has worked hard to have a good retirement who is being hit hard by this.”
A gentleman from West Richland recently pleaded that the many middle class workers, like him, must not be forgotten as we repeal and replace this broken law: “Do not forget us when fixing. We liked our plan, and we lost it.”
Very recently, a farmer from Moses Lake called my office and said that before the ACA he was paying less than $200 a month for catastrophic coverage for his family. Yet he is now forced to pay $1,000 per month with high deductibles discouraging his family from even being able to use and access their care.
As Congress debates the best way to repeal and replace the ACA, I am committed to ensuring we protect the most vulnerable—and also to providing relief for the majority of everyday, middle class Americans who have been devastated by this misguided and broken law.
The American Health Care Act currently being considered in House committees is draft legislation and subject to amendments, so the final bill that will be voted on the House floor and sent to the Senate for consideration and possible amendments remains to be seen. This is the beginning of the debate, and it is a good start to fix the failed status quo.
While I have heard some stories from people who feel like they have better coverage under the ACA, I have heard many more stories from my constituents who are struggling under this failed law. To those who have been hoping for relief: I hear you, I will not forget about you, and I will keep your stories at the forefront of my mind as we work to fix this failed system.
This column is adapted from remarks Rep. Newhouse delivered on the floor of the U.S. House on March 10, 2017.