Local Group Presses Comstock, Republicans over Healthcare

Local Group Presses Comstock, Republicans over Healthcare
Indivisible Lovettsville 20180 co-founder Kris Counsaul questions staff from congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s office about her support for Affordable Care Act repeal.

Eden Reck, a 10-year-old resident of Lovettsville, suffers from a rare glycogen storage disease and is a beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Her mother fears a repeal of the law will risk her daughter’s life.

As Donald Trump takes office as the nation’s 45th president, and Republicans in Congress begin work on health care reform, millions of Americans are watching with similar concern, fear and hope.

Eden and her mother, Erica Reck, were joined by nearly 60 other area residents on Jan. 18 at Congresswoman Barbara Comstock’s office in Sterling. There, they asked staffers what Comstock — and the majority Republican Congress — was doing to protect lives like Eden’s in anticipation of repealing ACA.

“The ACA is a lifeline for our family and I trust that you will not participate in its repeal without a replacement that is even better is in place,” Reck said, reading from a letter she wrote to Comstock. Reck said the coverage ACA provides is necessary to pay for specialists to help her daughter.

In advance of the meeting, Comstock wrote a letter explaining her decision to support repeal.

“Our current path under the ACA is flawed and ultimately unsustainable,” the letter read. “The current health insurance system is not working for millions of individuals, families and small businesses who have seen their premiums skyrocket.”

In her 2016 re-election campaign, Comstock advocated for repeal and replace.  She has repeatedly said that a new plan will offer a wider variety of coverage options that will continue to provide popular aspects of the ACA, including provisions to treat people with pre-existing conditions and allow young adults to stay on their parents plans until age 26.

That wasn’t enough for many in the group gathered at her office.

“They are repealing without replacing, which is what we always thought they would do anyway,” said Marge Landis of Centerville. “There is no plan. I have seen no draft of any legislation that has any details. There are talks of ideas and bullet points. There is no plan.”

The meeting at Comstock’s office was organized by Indivisible Lovettsville 20180. Started two weeks ago, the grassroots group has promoted its efforts against ACA repeal through Facebook, where it uses logos from the larger Indivisible organization.

Indivisible touts itself as a confederation of hundreds of volunteer groups across the country that is resisting president-elect Trump’s agenda and promoting what it considers progressive values.

The ACA was signed into law in 2010, ushering in an unprecedented health care expansion that required all Americans to acquire health insurance or pay a fine. The sweeping law also eliminated insurer’s ability to deny clients with pre-existing conditions and eliminated lifetime maximums. In the seven years since passage, around 20 million Americans acquired health insurance under the law.

Opponents of repeal say these Americans could lose life-saving health care coverage. Trump has said all Americans will have coverage, a sentiment not necessarily echoed by Republicans on the Hill. Many lawmakers have been cautious, saying the new plan will promote access for everyone.

Proponents of repeal say the ACA has led to dramatically increased premiums and unfair fines and taxes. Republicans, including Comstock, have also said that high deductibles have left many unable to afford their own health care. In effect, meeting a high annual deductible means some Americans using ACA may never get to use the insurance itself absent a catastrophic event.

As Congress works on its plan, advocates have reaffirmed their commitment to press lawmakers on their decisions.

“I feel like we were successful in presenting where we stand,” Indivisible Lovettsville 20180 co-founder Kristen Swanson said. “We have a lot of information and a lot of intellect and we’re not going away.”