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You might be surprised

To the editor:

As I write this, 700 Houghton County residents have tested positive for COVID-19.  I wonder how many of them realize that their positive COVID-19 test result means that they will forevermore be designated as having a pre-existing medical condition. Having a pre-existing condition used to mean that those people had to buy health insurance through a high-risk pool. In English, that meant you had to pay a whole lot more for even the most basic health insurance plan.  

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) did away with all of that. Now the Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to repeal the Act. The court case comes up for review a few weeks after the general election.  If the ACA is repealed, those 700 COVID positive folks in Houghton County, and anyone else with a medical condition such as endometriosis, diabetes, COPD, lupus, epilepsy, depression, an active pregnancy, acne, asthma, anxiety, cancer, or even sleep apnea could find themselves unable to afford health insurance.   

“Not to worry,” says the president, because he has issued an executive order saying that anybody who has insurance now will be able to get it under his plan.  

Indiana University health law professor David Gamage says, should “the court hold the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, the President’s executive order would do nothing, because it has no enforcement power.”

Larry Levitt, head of health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a widely used source of neutral health care data, suggested that Trump’s executive order is merely “a pinky promise to protect people with preexisting conditions.”

The President also says he’s got a terrific replacement health care plan just waiting in the wings to be implemented. The only problem is he’s been bragging about this miracle replacement for nearly four years and we’ve still seen no evidence of an actual plan. He’s been saying, “I’ll announce it in two weeks,” for nearly four years.  

The 700 people in Houghton County with COVID-related pre-existing conditions are a tiny fraction of the 54 million Americans who may find themselves priced out of the health insurance marketplace because of these conditions.  

“That won’t happen on my watch,” said the president.  

Tell that to the 210,000 dead Americans who would still be waiting for the COVID-19 pandemic to “magically disappear” if they hadn’t already passed away.

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