To the editor:
If the Senate’s version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill passes, I worry about the 22 million Americans who will lose health coverage. My husband and may very well be two of them.
When we moved to Hunterdon in 2001, we found a limited number of insurers for self-employed individuals like ourselves. We are not wealthy by any standard and, like most people, have some pre-existing conditions. We purchased our health insurance in the individual market and hoped that we would not get seriously sick, not wishing to test the limits of our plan.
Our premiums increased yearly, and after the financial crash of 2008-09, we needed to use our savings to pay our monthly premiums. It had become extremely expensive by then as the pool of those insured shrunk.
The Affordable Care Act changed our lives for the better. Our premiums dropped 60 percent. We worried less about getting sick because we now had caps on out-of-pocket expenses, and better quality coverage overall. It is a great relief.
But now we are worried again. We both have no confidence that our representative, Congressman Leonard Lance, will protect our access to affordable health care. His voting record proves it. He has voted against the ACA a total of 18 times over the past seven years, including voting this year for H.R. 3, which began the Obamacare repeal process.
Lance wants to get credit for voting once against the ACA repeal plan when it was in the House and he wants us to believe that he’s had a change of heart and is now listening to his constituents. It’s too little, too late. The damage has been done. His politically motivated talk and votes have paved the way for the repeal of my health care and thousands of his constituents.
When I attended his town halls, I heard him criticize the Democrats for not coming to the table to negotiate. That was disingenuous. Democrats have been shut out of the process, and he knows it. When he voted in committee for the House version of the bill, referred to as the American Health Care Act, Lance heard Democrats offer amendments. They were disregarded and ignored.
The cynicism and selfishness of this entire ACA repeal process has been anxiety inducing and heart-breaking for my husband and me. I’m not sure why Lance doesn’t see how all of his votes over the past seven years will inevitably lead to the middle class, the poor, the sick and disabled, the elderly in his district being punished. Perhaps he does see. Perhaps he switched that one vote because he only cares about keeping his seat in Congress.
I have no faith that Lance will protect his constituents if the Senate version of the bill comes back to the House. I hope that on Election Day 2018, we elect a real leader who will put the interests of his constituents — not his party’s ideology or his campaign funders — first.
Susan M. Blubaugh, Milford