Health Care

I voted for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has brought coverage to millions of Americans and raised the number of insured to the highest on record. More than 40,000 people in New Hampshire gained coverage this year through the state Marketplace, and 50,000 more will get healthcare when Medicaid expands this July.  

The healthcare law prevents discrimination against women, people with pre-existing conditions, and older Americans. It ensures that young adults can stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, which has already extended coverage to more than 10,000 young people in New Hampshire. It also eliminates annual and lifetime limits, so now, if your family member is sick, the insurance company can no longer refuse to pay past a certain dollar amount.

Before the law passed, we were all paying extra for nonpayers, who often ended up in emergency rooms and left taxpayers footing the bill. Addressing this problem while keeping the private insurance market was originally a Republican idea, and was piloted by then-Governor Romney.

The law has the support of leading organizations in the health care industry, groups such as the American Medical Association, the American Cancer Society, and many others that work directly with patients. Organizations like Small Business Majority and AARP are also actively supporting it.

Next year, there will be a total of 5 insurers offering plans on the New Hampshire Marketplace. Lack of insurer competition in New Hampshire had been a problem for decades, but now the healthcare law is reversing that trend. I pushed to bring new choices to the Marketplace, and I’m proud of the work I did.

While I have always supported healthcare reform, I have never said this law is perfect. I would have preferred a public option--Medicare you can buy into--and I was disappointed in the rollout, especially the website and the fact that NH had only one insurer. It was outrageous when Anthem left ten hospitals out of its network, including Frisbie, Parkland, and Portsmouth. I fought to make sure that insurance companies must actively prove they have enough doctors and hospitals in their networks next year, and succeeded.

Unfortunately, years of efforts to thwart and undermine the law also made the rollout more difficult than it should have been. Since it was passed, House Republicans have spent much of their time trying to obstruct, defund, and repeal the law. Frank Guinta and his 112th Congress succeeded in cutting billions from its implementation, making a tough job even more difficult. Americans are still waiting to see their elusive alternative “healthcare plan.”

I will continue to fix and improve the new law. We can’t go back to the old system, because insurers shouldn’t be allowed to write all the rules and leave so many behind.

I have always voted for more funding for medical research, while Frank Guinta voted for drastic cuts during his one term. Our country has helped heal Americans and the world by eradicating diseases like polio, but there are still so many diseases that create human misery, and we need research to prevent or cure them. Where we are months or years away from a breakthrough, we must not let that progress slip away.

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