I’m deeply concerned that Congressman Andy Harris will vote to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act against the best interests of Marylanders, particularly the vulnerable communities he represents on the Eastern Shore. As a family physician serving the Eastern Shore’s neediest communities, I can tell you first hand that access to health insurance improves health. Investing in health has vast societal benefits, from helping our children to be better learners to increasing the productivity of working families.
Since the law was passed in 2010, the Affordable Care Act has helped 278,000 Marylanders gain access to healthcare. Maryland’s most vulnerable people such as children, people with disabilities, seniors and people living in poverty can more easily obtain and keep health insurance coverage. Marylanders can obtain vital preventive care that saves lives and lowers healthcare costs. Women are no longer discriminated against under the Affordable Care Act. Marylanders can now obtain information about the exact cost and coverage of each plan available. Yet, Congressman Harris voted against the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and voted to repeal it twice, most recently on January 13, 2017.
Last week a gentleman in my office explained that his diabetes has been uncontrolled for years and that he has not sought testing for his chest pain because he did not have health insurance until recently. A pregnant woman postponed important testing I had recommended for her high-risk pregnancy while waiting to be added to her husband’s plan. Stories such as these are common within the communities I serve. People need easier access to health insurance, not more barriers. We need to improve our existing health insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, not start from scratch with a new program that will take years to implement and disrupt the services we are already trying to provide.
Clearly our healthcare system is far from perfect. However we need to continue expanding coverage, not cancel it. We need to improve and expand services under existing insurance coverage, not limit it further. My position on this issue is not unique. On January 2, 2017, organizations representing hundreds of thousands of doctors throughout the country (The American Academy of Family Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatricians, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The American College of Physicians) released a letter to Congress, supporting wide-spread insurance coverage in our country and voicing caution against dismantling the system we are working to build and improve.
Congressman Harris should work in the spirit of bipartisanship with Senator Van Hollen and the rest of the Maryland Congressional delegation to improve the Affordable Care Act, rather than dismantle it to the detriment of our communities. I urge readers to call Congressman Harris’ office today and ask him not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Christina Drostin, MD, MPH