To the editor:
Much has been in the news lately about attempts by the Trump Administration and many of the Congressional Republicans to blow apart the Affordable Care Act through litigation and administrative action. Those measures are being taken because efforts to do so in Congress failed when Americans rose up to oppose them.
I guess President Trump wasn’t paying attention to the fact that Americans oppose the idea of having their health care taken away from them. As someone who once also said he didn’t understand the impact of allowing insurers to use pre-existing medical conditions to escape covering sick people, I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But the repeated efforts, along with his repeated threat to blow up the ACA, I’ve concluded that he won’t wise up as it seems so many in Congress may be doing.
I wised up in 2002 when I was chairing the Indiana House of Representatives Insurance and Small Business Committee. At the request of the insurance industry, I introduced a bill that would have allowed them to opt out of up to three pre-existing conditions. The Industry claimed consumers wanted these policies because it would reduce the cost of monthly health insurance for those willing to gamble they wouldn’t need comprehensive coverage. However, after I learned how much harm this proposal would cause Hoosiers, I let the bill die.
Five years later, I learned a much harder lesson when my stepdaughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Between the time of her diagnosis and her death 15 months later, her medical bills exceeded $5 million. Had our insurer been able to cap its pay-out, we would have been bankrupted – and the chances of saving her life would have been greatly reduced when providers realized payment options for treatment may no longer exist. Trump’s repeal proposal would allow the return of these caps. Do you or someone you know have cancer or some other terrible condition or disease? Health officials say for every five Hoosiers, two will develop cancer – that’s 2.4 million of us. We’re also one of the unhealthiest states in the country, so affordable health insurance should be a concern to all of us.
Had Shay survived her cancer, she would have a pre-existing condition. And if Trump has his way, her insurer could drop her. Other insurers could turn her away.
Virtually everyone I know has a pre-existing medical condition -2.7 million Hoosier have at least one. (Think diabetes, asthma, heart disease.) The ACA protects us from having our insurer drop or deny us coverage based on those conditions. Last week, after failing to get Congress to kill the ACA, the president directed the Department of Justice to help fight to blow it up in the courts. Our own state Attorney General is part of that lawsuit, and like Trump, he’s on the side of the insurers, not us.
I’ve been encouraged by comments from some congressional leaders – Joe Donnelly, by the way, is the only Hoosier congressional representative fighting this battle from our side of the line – who say they never meant to let pre-existing condition protection end and that “everyone in the Senate” wants to preserve them. I’d like to say that, like me, they’ve learned their lesson.
I don’t much care if they’ve seen the light or they’re just afraid voters will oust them if they continue these inhumane tactics when it comes to health care. I want them to protect our rights, not blow them up. I’m calling on our Congressional delegation to stand against this effort to take away affordable health care and calling on AG Curtis to step away from the lawsuit that would eliminate pre-existing condition protection. I hope you join me.
Dave Crooks served in the Indiana House of Representatives, representing the 63rd District from 1996 to 2008. He was also the 2012 Democratic Nominee for Congress in Indiana’s 8th District. Dave is President and General Manager of DLC Media, Inc. which owns nine radio stations in Indiana and Illinois.