The Letter I Sent to My State’s Senators Regarding the AHCA

Do your part and e-mail your representatives your comments about health care in the US.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed the House yesterday largely by a party-line vote. Its next stop is the Senate for reconciliation. As a citizen, it is important to contact our representatives and alert them of our thoughts regarding important legislation. As a proud citizen of the state of Florida, my senators are Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. Below is the text of the message I sent to them noting my concerns of the AHCA.

Dear Senator Nelson,

I am e-mailing both you and Senator Rubio in regards to the recently passed American Health Care Act (HR 1628 or the AHCA) because — despite how the vote largely sorted out in the House — I believe that the issues surrounding this legislation supersede party labels. I have proudly supported both of you in the past as I have felt that, above all, you both are earnest and sincere in your desire to do what is best for your constituents and for the nation as a whole. It is because of this shared sincerity that I reach out today to urge you to not support the AHCA — at least not without substantial revision.

The concerns elicited by the AHCA for Florida and for the nation as a whole are numerous, nuanced, and expansive. However, I recognize that you and your staff are very busy so I have aimed to distill them to the following major points for the sake of concision:

  • The institution of a 30% surcharge on those who fail to maintain continuous coverage shifts from punishing people for not having insurance to punishing them for acquiring it. The number of uninsured will rise and the costs on the rest of us will increase concomitantly.
  • Shifting to a system of tax credits may, on the surface, promote choice on the end of the consumer. This is an idea that I, alongside others, would support if they were actually sufficient towards covering insurance costs. The costs of health insurance premiums for the average family were over $18,000 but said average family would probably only receive about $10,000 in credits, leaving them on the hook for $8,000. The median household income in the United States is just over $56,000. That means if everything goes well, the average family would need to spend 1/7th of their income on health insurance. And the increased reliance on savings plans that this bill proposes for when things go wrong ignores the reality that most Americans are still living from paycheck to paycheck.
  • Prohibiting the use of these tax credits on any plan that covers abortion is a roundabout way of policing morality. My personal feelings on abortion aside, people and markets should have the ability to choose the best plan that fits them and, should it include abortion, allow the insurance providers to include an additional premium. This engenders freedom and choice in the market and for the consumer. Furthermore, it is already in place.
  • While I am glad that this plan would reduce my expected premium costs, I do intend on one day becoming a senior citizen. Increasing the cap on how much insurance companies can charge seniors increases the burden on an already financially strained population — one that is particularly large here in the sunshine state.
  • The decision to offer block grants, on the surface, offers to promote political inventiveness. However, Florida relies heavily on federal assistance for Medicaid and is expected to be increase in said reliance due to expected demographic changes. Judging from prior budget proposals, there is a substantial risk that Florida will not receive enough money to cover those who need it most: The elderly, the poor, and the disabled. Future federal spending is projected to be a fraction of what it is now but those in need will only increase in number. This will merely shift the financial burdens of Medicaid onto an already strained state budget. I believe in the power of the states to be “laboratories of democracy” and I embrace local solutions over one-size-fits-all models — but there must be enough to actually experiment with or else this becomes a means of the federal officials limiting future enrollment while insulating themselves from the electoral backlash by passing the buck onto the states.

There are several more concerns with this bill but I find that these are, at least to me, the most egregious.

I understand that, as with most legislation concerning salient issues, there will be a period of debate and revision as you and your colleagues craft the senate’s vision for health care going forward. At the very least I hope that there will be more deliberation and prudence than what was demonstrated by the house’s vote; I expect that all appropriate analyses will be conducted and that the preponderance of pertinent stakeholders will approve of the measure before it moves to a vote.

I recognize that the current status quo, the Affordable Care Act, is far from perfect. And I believe that there are a number of solutions that can incorporate the ingenuity of the states and markets into the federal scaffolding to ameliorate these imperfections. But not all progress is good progress. This legislation blends market, states, and national government by combining the worst of all three into a toxic amalgam. It eschews fair market principles for pernicious moral and ideological policing and replaces compassion with institutionalized callousness. There has simply got to be a better way forward.

I urge you to not support this legislation and, if you do, that you respond with how you will address these several serious concerns.

I look forward to your response(s) at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely Yours,

Peter R. Licari

Due to character limits on Senator Rubio’s website, he received an abridged version of this letter. The core content, however, remains the same.

Peter R. Licari is a Graduate Student in Political Science at the University of Florida specializing in American Politics, Political Behavior, and Political Methodology. The opinions expressed are his own. He can also be found on YouTube and on Twitter(@prlitics13). What little spare time remains is dedicated to long-distance running, video games with his ever-patient fiancee, and to oddly productive one-sided conversations with his cat, Asia.

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