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Senators, work to improve health care under new law

Jun 21, 2017 - Susan Simpson, Laramie


The League of Women Voters of Wyoming is urging U.S. Sens. Michael Enzi and John Barrasso to use their roles on the U.S. Senate's working group on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) to protect health care and insurance for 20,000 Wyoming residents.

Senators, please use your position on the working group to preserve important patient health care and insurance protections while fixing flaws with the current law. It may become necessary to scale back promised tax breaks for wealthier Americans.

We urge you to work this bill in a public forum, with the benefit of a Congressional Budget office scoring of the final version and with the benefit of public hearings from stakeholders.

We are a non-partisan political organization that supports informed involvement of people in their government. LWV advocates for issues but does not support or oppose candidates.

Our senators are among 13 Republicans named to a working group to prepare a version of the AHCA for consideration by the full Senate.

Wyoming is in the enviable position of having a large voice in the group, which so far has been working in private toward a reported deadline of July 4.

It's unclear how much the group will use the version of the AHCA passed by the House, intended to replace the Affordable Care Act.

We have identified several objectionable features of the House version of the AHCA, including an estimated $5,100 net insurance premium increase for people in Wyoming and $839 billion in cuts over 10 years for health care coverage by Medicaid.

The measure ends Medicaid as we know it for seniors in nursing homes, people with disabilities, and families with children.

As president of the League of Women Voters of Wyoming, I speak for our membership in urging the senators to rewrite the bill to include provisions that:

- Guarantee affordable health coverage and access to comprehensive health services for all people who have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act;

- Require all health plans to cover "Essential Health Benefits" as defined by the ACA;

- Preserve affordable coverage for individuals with pre-existing health conditions;

- Ensure coverage equity for all Americans, regardless of age, gender and/or income level;

- Preserve Medicaid as a state entitlement program with a federal match, and;

- Retain the option for states to expand Medicaid programs to include low-wage adults.

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