The Affordable Care Act needs strengthening. Replacing it with a proposal like Sen. Susan Collins’ plan, which allows individual states to find paths to expand access, won’t work for states with leaders like Maine’s. Access does not get expanded, and people who need care and have no coverage go without. With coverage, they can get routine preventive care at little or no cost, thanks to Obamacare.

Block grants and per capita caps to states’ Medicaid programs would shrink access to care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, this limits federal spending by restricting growth to a pre-set amount. It increases flexibility states have in determining eligibility. The MaineCare eligibility rules are already very complicated and mistakes are often made. These mistakes cause children and seniors to lose coverage through no fault of their own. Maine’s population is not expanding, but with its population getting older, the need for care is.

When someone’s income is too low to qualify for tax credits and/or cost sharing to lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs through Obamacare, they have nowhere to turn for coverage. There is no assistance with premiums and cost-sharing when buying directly from insurance companies.

Blaming the ACA for increases in premiums and deductibles misplaces the blame. That lies squarely with the insurance companies. It is hard to believe when insurance companies say they lose money. It is more like they didn’t plan on 20 million Americans gaining coverage and using it. Rather than paying shareholder dividends and CEO salaries in the millions that money should pay for people’s health care.

Collins should work on strengthening the ACA, rather than making laws that give states more latitude and less money to provide coverage. Create regulation that reigns in the power of health insurance companies. Create a system that values health and well-being over money and profit.

Helen M. Roy

president

Kennebec Valley Organization

China

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