DURHAM, NH – Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) on Wednesday gathered local elected officials and New Hampshire residents for a telephone roundtable discussion about his concerns regarding efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Pappas criticized efforts by the Trump administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act or ACA, including recent legal efforts to repeal the legislation that are expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court this fall. Pappas added that it was additionally irresponsible to repeal the ACA without providing a clear alternative during a pandemic.
“Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege,” he said. “If the ACA is struck down, it would unleash chaos in the healthcare system.”
Several New Hampshire residents participating in the call said that preserving the ACA is a matter of life or death for themselves or family members due to lack of access to life-sustaining medicine such as insulin without insurance coverage made available thanks to the ACA.
Michelle O’Leary of Atkinson asked elected officials in Ohio about this feeling of life and death surrounding attempts to repeal the ACA.
“All I ever got was canned responses, but the fact is, what could they say?,” said O’Leary. “If you ask someone ‘do you want me to die?’, I don’t think anyone would have a response that would be okay.”
State Senator Dr. Tom Sherman (D-Rye) is a gastroenterologist on the seacoast and was one of the participants on the call.
In talking with constituents, Sherman says he’s seen a significant amount of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the ACA, including among people who have insurance only through the ACA and do not understand that they’d likely lose that insurance or see it priced out of reach if it was repealed. He added that many of these people support Trump.
“I tell them the guy you are voting for is trying to take away your lifeline,” said Sherman. “If you value that people should not be dying in the streets of treatable diseases, you cannot vote for this administration.”
Pappas noted the ACA is just one step in improving American healthcare citing other efforts he’s taken, such helping to get the Lower Drug Costs Now Act through the House last year.
Over the past several weeks, Trump has signed executive orders related to improving rural health and telehealth access, lowering drug prices through increased importation, halting third-party price markups and supporting Federally Qualified Health Centers.