Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Action Report: Congressman Schiff Forum on ACA

Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28) held a forum on the Affordable Care Act at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The auditorium held a couple hundred people, but it was packed and they had to use an overflow room. Schiff headed a panel that also included leaders from Healthcare Access California, Planned Parenthood, and the LGBT Center. Several people shared their stories of how the ACA has benefitted them. Many moving stories about the barbaric pre-ACA days of pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits. One person talked about losing their job and their coverage at age 60, just a few years shy of Medicare eligibility, and trying to find coverage on the independent market before ACA. "When you're 60 years old, you are a pre-existing condition." The forum included time for audience questions. One of the interesting questions asked was what can people in "blue" states do? Schiff said that we should reach out to our friends and family in other states, and we should support organizations with national reach. He reminded that not only do we need citizens to lobby GOP members of Congress, but it is important to strengthen and encourage Democratic senators from states that aren't quite as deep blue as ours. Someone else asked if Schiff would give up his own health insurance if the ACA was repealed. He answered that he would lose his coverage like everyone else on an ACA plan, because he buys his insurance through the Covered California ACA exchange. Another person asked if they should be worried about Medicare. Schiff replied that the ACA had taken several steps to strengthen Medicare, both in terms of benefits (e.g., closing the prescription coverage "donut hole") and in making the program more fiscally sound by effectively slowing the growth of costs. He also noted that repeal of the ACA would add significant costs to the federal budget, and normally the Republicans have always insisted on having the CBO score the "budgetary impact" of every piece of legislation, but they passed a rule to exempt ACA repeal from CBO fiscal impact analysis. They want to sweep the costs of repeal under the rug. (See photos from the forum.)

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