New Hampshire leaders support ACA

MANCHESTER – Some Democratic presidential candidates are promoting the so-called “Medicare for all” plan, which the Associated Press in May estimated would increase government spending by as much as $35 trillion during a 10-year span.

Simultaneously, the seemingly endless political and legal battle over Obamacare (formally known as the Affordable Care Act) continues. Today in New Orleans, lawyers representing President Donald Trump’s administration plan to argue before a federal appeals court that the act should be declared illegal.

Monday, all members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation gathered at Amoskeag Health in Manchester to emphasis their support for Obamacare.

“I think it’s worth repeating, that after nine years of efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act by our Republican colleagues in the Congress, and while promising a replacement plan, President Trump and Republican leadership have still not provided any replacement plan for the ACA. So, there is no Plan B,” U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said.

Shaheen appeared with U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, along with U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, all D-N.H. They said overturning the ACA would be a threat to tens of thousands of Granite Staters, not to mention millions of Americans.

They said the loss of Obamacare would mean:

• Protections for people with pre-existing conditions would disappear;

• Insurance companies could once again set annual and lifetime caps on the value of services they allow;

• Prescription drug costs would go up for seniors; and

• New Hampshire would lose Medicaid expansion.

Hassan said Medicaid expansion provides quality, affordable health coverage to more than 50,000 people in New Hampshire. This includes those participating in treatment for their addictions. Although she admits there is a long way to go with this opioid epidemic, she said Medicaid expansion has been a critical tool for the state’s health care community in getting people into treatment and providing them with care.

“As Senator Shaheen has laid out, the Trump administration has been absolutely relentless with its barrage of attacks on Americans health care,” Hassan said. “Make no mistake – if the Trump administration gets its way in this partisan lawsuit, it would raise health care costs, rip away critical protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and leave millions of Americans uninsured.”

Three patients relying on the ACA joined the delegation at Amoskeag Health, formerly Manchester Community Health Center, at 145 Hollis St. Monday morning to share their stories, and highlight how important this legislation is in their lives. Amoskeag President and CEO Kris McCracken said as a federally qualified health center, they have seen firsthand the impact the ACA has on the state.

Before the implementation of the ACA in 2010, she said about 40% of the center’s patients were uninsured and had no means to access insurance. Since the implementation, that number is closer to 20%. Additionally, she said the center has gone from approximately 8,000 patients in 2010 at the beginning of implementation, to more than 15,000 last year.

“I’m pretty sure the size of Greater Manchester didn’t double since 2010, so what we know is people are coming in to get care that weren’t getting care before,” McCracken said.

Pappas said officials have to end to the partisan divide that exists on the issue of health care. He said those grappling with their addictions cannot take any steps backward on their progress to a healthy and successful life. Without Medicaid expansion, he said it may become much more difficult for those people to continue in the right direction.

“While the ACA may not be perfect, it’s a solid foundation I think that we should be building on, and not tearing apart,” Pappas said.

Adam Urquhart may be contacted at 594-1206, or at aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.