Constituents in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District are growing increasingly concerned about the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and are looking to their elected officials to help address those concerns. Many calls, letters, and emails to Representative Andy Harris’s office have gone unanswered, or answered without addressing specific concerns. Constituent requests for Representative Harris to hold an in-person town hall meeting have not been successful.
Citizens for Health Care, a local grassroots organization, has heard these concerns and will host a series of citizens town hall meetings entitled “Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Town Hall Meetings” intended to inform and educate constituents about the ACA and what it’s repeal could mean to them and their families and to consider methods to improve the ACA.
These town hall meetings will feature speakers from the professional healthcare community for an information session, as well as an open-panel question and answer session for public attendees. Representative Harris and other local elected officials have been invited to attend, in hopes of opening the lines of communication with their constituents and allowing for a discussion of what might come next. Hundreds of constituents have indicated they are interested in attending.
“At Citizens for Health Care, we understand that the subjects of health care and the ACA are not partisan issues: they are human issues,” said DeLane Lewis, one of the founders of Citizens for Health Care. “Congress is facing a dilemma at this moment, arguing whether to repeal or repair parts of the ACA. However, any decision they make will have a real, lasting impact on all U.S. citizens. It is our mission to keep the public informed and aware as to how these proposed changes could affect them.”
One of the major aims of the town hall meetings will be to answer the many questions that citizens currently have, including: What will be the impact on employer based plans? While all current and proposed plans, would continue to offer insurance for pre-existing conditions, under the ACA insurance companies are not allowed to charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. Will that be true under any new plan? In Maryland alone, almost 500,000 people are enrolled in health care coverage through the ACA. What will be the impact on the State of Maryland financially? On jobs?
Proposed plans that would eliminate current provisions of the ACA for federal financial assistance and Medicaid expansion are also of significant concern. According to research by the Urban Institute, eliminating individual and employer mandated, federal financial assistance and Medicaid expansion would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 22.5 million. The group estimates that an additional 7.3 million Americans would lose their insurance due to anear collapse of the non group insurance market.
Speakers at the citizens town hall plan to review and compare coverage options and statistics from pre-ACA, versus current options, as well as the various policy aspects of proposed changes or replacements. Health care professionals will also be available to discuss the implications for addiction treatment and mental health care in the community, as the ACA has greatly expanded coverage in both of these areas. Additionally, the financial costs of premiums and out-of-pocket expenses will be discussed to get a clear picture of the impact on the average healthcare consumer’s wallet.
The town hall meetings will be held as follows:
Tuesday, February 21, 6:30 pm, Harford Community College, Darlington Hall, Room 202, Bel Air
Thursday, February 23, 6 pm, Queen Anne’s County Library, 200 Library Circle, Stevensville
Friday, February 24, 6 pm, Salvation Army, 429 N Lake Drive, Salisbury
Thursday, March 2, 6 pm, St Paul’s UCC, 17 Bond Street, Westminster
Current guest speakers scheduled to appear include:
– Sue Ehlenberger, Maryland Health Connection-Seedco
– Mark Romaninsky, Maryland Health Connection-Seedco
– Jeananne Sciabarra, Consumer Health First
– Scot Hurley, Ashley Addiction Treatment
– Katia Callan, MSW, LCSW-C, Insight Wellness of Maryland
– Dr. James Burdick, author of Talking About Single Payer: Health Care Equality for America
– Dr. Margaret Flowers, Healthcare is a Human Right
– Kaylie Potter, Door to Healthcare
About Citizens for Health Care: Citizens for Health Care, located in Bel Air, Md., is a grassroots organization dedicated to providing education and information regarding the Affordable Care Act and proposed changes to the bill. For more information, please visithttps://www.facebook.com/CitizensforHealthCare/