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Urges continued health care access
March 25, 2017

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To the Editor:

In the run up to his election in November, now President Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Many in Congress made a similar pledge, and two months into President Trump's term we have a proposal: the American Health Care Act. With majorities in both houses of Congress, the President appears poised to make good on his promise.

Independent organizations have determined that the American Health Care Act would, in fact, provide very few people with access to health care. The Congressional Budget Office, for instance, predicts that more than 24 million Americans would lose health insurance within the next ten years. The largest group at risk are those who receive their medical coverage through Medicaid, which could be cut by as much as 25 percent.

Those receiving Medicaid are frequently women, children, elderly, or disabled, who are either too sick or too poor to obtain employer-based or individually-purchased health insurance like most Americans. Over 600,000 Iowans receive Medicaid, and many would lose coverage with passage of the American Health Care Act. I fear a significant number of those live in our community.

Politicians have accurately pointed out some of the flaws of the Affordable Care Act. In isolated parts of the country, the costs of health insurance have risen. Mandates have required many Americans to purchase insurance or otherwise pay a tax penalty. At the same time, we have the lowest percentage of uninsured Americans in our country's history, and many are receiving affordable health care for the very first time. Rather than toss out everything we've achieved, we should ask those in Washington to fix what is broken and keep the rest intact.

As a physician, I swore the Hippocratic Oath, which said above all else, do no harm. Iowans are proud, hard-working people who understand the value of a dollar, but we also understand that there is no greater deed than to extend a hand to our fellow man or woman in need. Passage of the American Health Care Act would have serious consequences for those who need our help the most. Instead, I would implore us to look beyond politics and work together to ensure that all Americans have access to health care. It's the right thing to do.

Aaron Paul Kithcart MD PhD

Boston, MA

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