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LETTER: Bickering slowing solutions for health care

To the Editor: Republicans love to beat on ACA (Obamacare). We heard about "repeal and replace." Attempts at "repeal" have failed; absolutely nothing has been offered to "replace." Nonetheless, candidates continue to blame Obamacare for what is w...

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To the Editor:

Republicans love to beat on ACA (Obamacare). We heard about "repeal and replace." Attempts at "repeal" have failed; absolutely nothing has been offered to "replace." Nonetheless, candidates continue to blame Obamacare for what is wrong in US health care.

What are the facts? We have real problems. Health care costs too much. Insurance premiums are beyond the reach of many. Costs continue to go up. Is this the fault of Obamacare?

Fact: prior to implementation of the ACA in 2010, costs were increasing at a rate of 6-8 percent per year. Since 2010 the rate of increase has been 3-5 percent per year. This is still too much; rather than making the situation worse, ACA has improved it.

In 2010, before ACA, roughly 18 percent of our population was without health insurance. By 2015 that number had dropped to 10.5 percent - lowest rate in modern history.

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Did Obamacare "steal" funds from Medicare? The facts are that in 2009 the Medicare Trust Fund was projected to become insolvent in 2017 (yes, last year!).

The ACA included changes which in 2010 pushed back the year of insolvency to 2029 (Medicare strengthened and benefits actually increased). With the current administration, however, the trend has reversed and in 2018 the projected date of insolvency is 2026.

The most popular requirement in the ACA has been the rule that insurance companies could not reject applicants with pre-existing conditions. That is now under attack. A lawsuit pending in federal court challenges the constitutionality of this and other provisions in the ACA.

Our Attorney General Marty Jackley has signed on as a plaintiff in that case and the Trump administration has chosen not defend these provisions of the ACA. The message seems to be that President Trump and Marty Jackley prefer that we go back to the "bad old days" when folks with pre-existing conditions were routinely denied health care coverage.

These are complicated issues. They deserve serious and honest efforts to find ways to get needed care to sick people. That fact seems to get lost in the political bickering that dominates today's public discussions.

Tom Dean M.D.

Wessington Springs

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