Health care repeal will make a bad problem worse

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009, better known as “federal health care reform,” certainly has its shortcomings. It doesn’t go far enough, fast enough or soon enough, denying a growing body of Minnesotans and Americans access to affordable healthcare. But, the worst thing we could do it is repeal it.

Of course, that’s exactly what conservative public policymakers, federal and state, seek. For the next 21 months, expect the Congressional majority leadership to vigorously attempt to repeal federal health care reform. Minnesota’s state conservative health care voices have enthusiastically joined the repeal chorus. They’re determined to make a bad situation worse.

If I were in better humor, I’d be tempted to describe the conservative repeal effort as the policy equivalent of “hey, you kids; stay off of my lawn.” I am not in good humor. I don’t find any of this amusing. I am staying focused on communicating federal health care reform’s good while making the case for expanding affordable health care, expanding coverage and containing costs.

In the spirit of self-interest, let me offer one example of what the conservative repeal proposes to kill: pre-existing condition insurance coverage. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, particularly a well-documented one, chances are increasingly good that you will be denied insurance coverage for that condition. Then what?

Your life, and your family’s life, becomes complicated, costlier and anxious. You will find yourself grabbing for an increasingly smaller grab-bag of public administered assistance. Your insurance pool will consist of high-cost, high-risk people, like yourself. You will feel excluded which is exactly the conservative repeal movement’s goal.

Don’t be distracted by conservative claims that affordable health care compromises our freedom. That’s a smokescreen because the reverse is true. Lack of affordable health care compromises American freedom, smothers job growth, and further separates financial haves from financial have-nots. Affordable health care, in Minnesota and in America, creates opportunity. It doesn’t limit it.

In the days and months ahead, know that we’ll see more outrageous claims from conservative policymakers and policy advocates. Listen, consider, engage and then refute them. We move affordable health care reform forward by building community, not tearing it down.