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Democrats: The Affordable Care Act Isn’t Perfect

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During the Democratic Weekly Address, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) discussed health care and stated that while the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect, instead of sabotage, we need solutions.

Jones was Tuesday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”. Here are his words

“Hi, I’m Doug Jones, United States Senator from the great state of Alabama. It’s a place that values family and community, where folks still look out for their neighbors.

That’s why, as their senator, I’ve made it a priority to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to expand access to quality, affordable health care to every family in Alabama and across the country. And while we’ve made great strides, like funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program for another 10 years, we’ve seen this President, his administration, and Republicans in Congress take steps to undermine our health insurance markets and put Americans at risk.

Some folks might think that just because multiple attempts to push health care repeal through Congress failed last year, that there’s no longer a threat to the coverage that they have today. Sadly, that’s just not true.

In August, the administration took yet another step to weaken our health care system by expanding the availability of “junk” insurance plans. And that’s exactly what they are: junk.

Originally, these plans were conceived as a way to get folks cheap, very short-term coverage between plans—for example, if you were in between jobs, these plans would be a bridge between those jobs. Recent health care reforms limited their use to three months for good reason. But with the administration’s new rule, people can buy these plans for up to a year, with the option to renew for three years.

Now for a young, healthy person, that might seem like an attractive option. But if you ever actually needed to use it, you might find that it falls far short of what you expected it to cover.

These junk plans don’t have to cover maternity care, hospital visits, addiction treatment, pre-existing conditions, and much more. Worse yet, if you buy a plan like this thinking you’re just saving a buck and don’t realize it’s an empty plan – God forbid you find out that once you’re facing a medical emergency. Regardless, someone ends up footing that bill, whether it’s you or the hospital or the taxpayers.

And because healthier people might gravitate towards an option like this, it could destabilize the entire risk pool for traditional plans – potentially sending premiums soaring for older individuals and people with pre-existing conditions who need robust coverage.

It is no wonder that, according to reports, during the public comment period not a single group representing patients, doctors, nurses, or hospitals voiced support for this rule. Along with insurance commissioners and policy experts, these groups all agree: junk plans are just that—junk—and are not worth the risk. That’s why all Senate Democrats earlier this week forced a vote on legislation that would have overturned the rule allowing the expansion of “junk” plans, which unfortunately failed mostly on a party-line vote.

Unfortunately, this effort is just one of many that have had the express intent of undermining a federal law and its vital protections like those for pre-existing conditions that was upheld by the Supreme Court. We’ve seen the open enrollment period cut in half, health care navigator and advertising funds nearly wiped out, and even scheduled maintenance on during high-volume registration times. These actions have the net effect of keeping Americans in the dark about their options, or worse yet, discouraging them from accessing health care coverage at all.

The administration has even abandoned their defense of the law in the face of a lawsuit brought by a dozen states, including Alabama, that seeks to gut the core provisions of our health care system. If that lawsuit succeeds, protections for pre-existing conditions would no longer be guaranteed.

For the one-in-three Alabamians under age 65 who have a pre-existing condition, they could face devastating consequences.

No law, including the Affordable Care Act, is perfect from the start. But instead of sabotage, we need solutions.

With your help, we can keep this important issue at the top of the agenda. Together, our voices can drive the national conversation around health care and get us back on track to ensure quality, affordable care for all Americans.”

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning at 6:45, 7:45 and 8:45 on AM 1450 and FM 102.7 KVML.