Dear Congress, Do Not Repeal Reform

Debate on HR 2, the bill to repeal the new federal health law is set to begin on Tuesday. A vote is likely to come on Wednesday. While it is unlikely that HR 2 will make headway beyond the House, real threats to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act are on the horizon. Health Access California has submitted a letter to our California Congressional delegation, asking them to keep fighting for quality and affordable health care for all. We encourage you to submit letters, emails, faxes, and calls to your Representatives as well. The text of our letter is below if you’d like a sample.

Dear California Congressional Delegation:

As the statewide health consumer advocacy coalition, we have been working hard to implement and improve upon federal health care reform here in California. We write to urge you to commit to voting against HR2 and all efforts to repeal, replace, or defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The historic passage of the ACA has already begun to make a significant difference in the lives of Californians. We ask you to keep fighting in defense of those who have already begun to benefit from provisions already in effect, and the millions who anxiously await full implementation.

In light of the state’s budget crisis, the slow pace of economic recovery, and the dismantling of the safety net through budget cuts, California families need federal health reform to ensure access to quality and affordable health care and to secure a healthy economic recovery. In 2009, 8.2 million Californians were uninsured according to a new report by the California Health and Human Services Agency, and families that have coverage are still concerned whether it will be there for them when they need it. You are certainly aware that the Congressional Budget Office has warned that repeal would increase the federal deficit by $230 billion and according to the Centers for America Progress destroy up to 400,000 jobs; but the impact on the California economy would be of equally staggering magnitude.

According to a new study by Peter Long and Jonathan Gruber released this month in Health Affairs, California households would collectively receive $12.6 billion in benefits annually from the Affordable Care Act, including $4.8 billion in increased wages. The report also projects that by 2016, 96% of documented residents under 65 would be covered as a result of ACA. Seniors over 65 will save an estimated $9000 per year from the closing of the Medicare Part D “donut hole” (estimate by Kaiser Family Foundation). But we will not see any of this much needed economic stimulus if health reform is repealed.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 576,500 children in California with pre-existing conditions are now eligible for coverage as a result of guaranteed issue according to Families USA. The Insure the Uninsured Project estimates that 396,000 adults who have been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions now have access to insurance through PCIP, the federally funded high risk pool. Repealing the ACA would revoke these consumer protections. Additionally, California’s 392,000 small businesses, the cornerstone of our economy, would lose the tax credits that help them afford coverage for their employees. Healthcare.gov estimates that 196,000 young adults in California covered under their parents’ policies would lose access to health insurance; and the community clinics would lose $1.4 billion in funding, which would have a devastating impact on access to care.

In California, 269,623 seniors falling into the “donut hole” look forward to the closing the gap in coverage so they never again have to choose between the prescriptions that keep them healthy and their other daily living expenses. Rolling back provisions that extend Medicare solvency also threaten the health of our seniors and soon-to-be seniors. ACA’s Medi-Cal expansion will mean an additional two million low-income Californians will qualify for coverage, and an additional 2.4 million will be eligible for subsidies in the California Health Benefit Exchange, and they are counting on you to make sure implementation continues as scheduled.

We urge you to stand against the repeal efforts. We ask you to vote against increasing the deficit and dismantling historic legislation that promises to improve our health care system.

Thank you for your consideration.

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

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