I and other PDA members were at your town hall meeting in Heyworth, where some of your constituents encouraged you to vote to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. In reply, you made the sensible point that ACA can't be defunded through the budget process, and that shutting down the government would bring extremely negative political consequences for Republicans. You also stated that you, like many in the room, wanted to repeal and replace "ObamaCare." I am afraid that at this moment my manners deserted me and I called out, "Replace it with what?"
You replied that you had some ideas. Again, I was less than polite and asked you to name one. You asked if we could discuss the matter privately. Unfortunately, I had to leave the meeting early, but it is my hope that you will be able to share with me and fellow PDA members your ideas about health care and health insurance. Specifically, I hope you explain to us what Republicans would do about pre-existing conditions. The ACA addresses them, of course, so no one can be denied health insurance because of a previous illness. Can you also tell me if Republicans would allow young people to remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26?
The new health insurance exchanges allow individuals to purchase health insurance in large groups. This means that those who can't get health insurance at work can still get affordable coverage for themselves and their families. How would Republicans replace the exchanges? What would Republicans do to reduce the cost of Medicare, as the ACA does? What would Republicans do to broaden health insurance coverage so that those without are not forced to depend on emergency rooms for treatment?
Many governors, including Pat Quinn of Illinois and even some Republicans, are working with the federal government to expand Medicaid within their states. Would you and your party expand Medicaid, leave it as is or eliminate the program altogether?
I hope you can answer these questions. It would be harmful to many Americans and to our economy to simply end the ACA without an adequate replacement.
Before the ACA was passed, U.S. health care was in crisis. Republicans used to recognize this fact; the conservative Heritage Foundation first developed many of the policy proposals that ultimately led to ObamaCare. We are therefore sure that you and your party have developed a health care policy, even though you've chosen to keep your ideas secret. Thanks in advance for your substantive reply.
Larry Jones is retired, a volunteer coordinator with Food and Water Watch, a part-time support person for disabled adults, and coordinator of the Greater Peoria Progressive Democrats of America. He lives in Mackinaw.
Originally posted on Journal Star