To the editor:
One of the greatest dangers facing New Hampshire is the one we are not talking about — and it poses a threat to our health, safety, and economy.
The Trump administration’s Department of Justice is arguing at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the entire Affordable Care Act “should not be allowed to remain in effect.”
That could lead to a Supreme Court case next year that could bring down the entire Affordable Care Act.
If the new conservative court overturns the ACA, what would New Hampshire look like?
Immediately, almost 50,000 people who have purchased affordable coverage through the ACA could lose coverage. Another 55,000 obtained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid and would lose coverage, too.
No longer would insurers cover preventive care visits without a co-pay. You would have to pay again for 50 procedures that are now covered as preventive services. This includes vaccinations and cancer screenings. Add to that no more covered well-woman visits, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding equipment and contraception. Tens of thousands would lose access to treatment for drug addiction, alcoholism, as well as treatment for behavioral health issues. Children under 26 would have no access to health care under their parents’ plans. Families could lose maternity coverage and newborn care.
Do you have a pre-existing condition? Right now, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a pre-existing condition. But if the ACA goes down, countless N.H. residents could lose their health care coverage for their pre-existing conditions and the cost to get new coverage would soar.
The consequences would be disastrous. With a rapidly aging population, N.H. would have an even harder time luring younger people to stay here. Rural hospitals, already struggling, would face impossible economic issues, and businesses, adding up the cost of health care — would locate elsewhere. Right now, N.H. ranks 24th in the nation for health costs, without the ACA, we would be uncompetitive compared to other states. Meanwhile, without access to treatment, the opioid epidemic would become worse, and have a huge societal toll.
This is just the tip of the iceberg — but the result would be less coverage, higher costs, jumps in uncompensated care at emergency rooms and a shift of the health care burden to our businesses.
So, start paying attention to the fate of the ACA, we can’t afford this societal and economic gut punch. There’s a lot we can all do. We need to support our elected officials who work to pass laws that protect our care. We need to stand with our elected officials who are working to save the ACA in Washington, D.C.
But most of all we need to urge our state leadership and attorney general to join more than 20 other states in a lawsuit to prevent the overturning of the ACA. This may be our best hope.