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Bob Jansen, Published January 06 2011

Don’t be quick to discard health care reform law

You know the old adage “Look before you leap?” As efforts ramp up to repeal health care reform in Congress, we should take a long look at what that will mean for the quality of health care we have available to us here.

First and foremost, repeal of the Affordable Care Act would undo the “Frontier Amendment,” a provision included in the final bill by Sens. Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan and Congressman Earl Pomeroy, that would deliver as much as $650 million in increased Medicare reimbursement to North Dakota’s doctors and hospitals.

What does the unraveling of the Frontier Amendment mean for us? It could mean a reduction in services. It could mean a reduction in specialized care. It could mean the care we receive would suffer.

Additionally, repeal of health care reform means children and adults with pre-existing conditions could be denied medical coverage and potentially, life-saving treatment. What does that mean to you?

Maybe nothing, but what if it were your child who needed care? Repeal means 30 million more people won’t receive badly needed access to health care – that’s 30 million people, any of whom could be someone close to you.

Are you ready to tell your uncle, your college roommate, or your next-door neighbor you don’t think they should have access to health care? Repeal means that if your spouse, your parent or your child develops a life-threatening illness that requires sustained treatment, health insurance companies would again have the right to determine when to cut off coverage for their care.

Are you ready to tell your wife or husband that a corporate conglomerate now holds their fate in its hands? Repeal means 108,000 seniors across North Dakota would lose new Medicare benefits, including no-cost preventive services like annual physicals, and assistance paying for medications.

Are you ready to tell your mother or grandmother they need to pay much more for their prescription medications? Health care reform remains a contentious issue. It wasn’t perfect, and a number of arguments have been made both in support of and against the bill that was signed into law. But before the Washington politicians act, we need to consider the very real progress this legislation made and will bring us in the future.