Open Forum: Clear and present danger

Posted: May 7, 2013

The Affordable Care Act will provide medical insurance coverage for more than 50 million uninsured Americans. It will force medical insurers to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and prevent them from arbitrarily rescinding existing coverage.

It assures that young adults can stay on their parents’ family coverage longer instead of prematurely losing coverage. It sets up insurance exchanges so people can shop for competitive and cheaper rates, and expands Medicaid coverage to cover low-income families that would not otherwise be poor enough to qualify.

If Republicans are elected in Virginia in November, they plan to gut the Affordable Care Act. The health-care law provides for nearly universal coverage. Its demise would be a disaster for the average American.

By requiring all Americans to participate in and contribute to the cost of the nation’s health care, it drives down the average cost of medical care. People will be able to afford preventative care where before they waited until an emergency and ended up in the emergency room.

Emergency room care is the most expensive care. The cost of the care for the uninsured was passed on to those with insurance, driving up insurance premiums. Now there will be a larger pool of insured sharing the nation’s health-care bill.

Ken Cuccinelli, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, has made no secret of his desire to gut the Affordable Care Act. As attorney general, he had Virginia challenge the law as unconstitutional before the Supreme Court.

When the Supreme Court ruled that the law was constitutional, the Republicans retreated to a different line of attack. They vowed to fight the expansion of Medicaid coverage in the various states. Their argument is that Medicaid expansion will cost the states too much money. They ignore the fact that the federal government will pay for the Medicaid expansion. They also ignore the fact that independent studies show that such expansion of benefits actually lowers the overall costs to the states.

Another line of attack against the act is to attempt to strike down provisions pertaining to health care for women. Gov. Bob McDonnell has blocked family planning provisions under the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia. This is a continuation of the Virginia Republican policy war against women. It goes all the back to Gov. McDonnell’s attempt to force women to submit to ultrasounds.

Such a line of attack not only weakens the Affordable Care Act, but also adversely affects, in a disproportionate, way poor women. Poor women who need family planning assistance will be denied this service through their Medicaid coverage. This is not only a war against women. It is also a war against the poor.

We have come too far to turn back now. In Virginia, the Republicans are a clear and present danger to our health. Vote for Terry McAuliffe for governor and the other Democrats in November and protect the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

Warren D. Golightly is a resident of Frederick County.