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Willis Heinrich, Bismarck, Published August 01 2012

In spite of what mom says, Berg voted against seniors, children

Since the Affordable Health Care Act went into effect in September 2010, many of its provisions have served folks in North Dakota and the U.S. well. We have waited a long time for health care reform to take place. I’m delighted it’s finally here, and I give credit to all of those who made it happen. Like most major pieces of legislation, it will need amending to make it more effective. But instead of working to save the good and kill the bad, Rep. Rick Berg, N.D., joined his party members by just voting to kill it all.

That means he voted to kill the following things the law has already started:

• Now health insurance companies can’t say to seniors: “You’ve hit a lifetime limit; your coverage is canceled.”

• Now young adults can save money by staying on their parents’ plan until they turn 26.

• Now 17 million uninsured children with pre-existing conditions are no longer blocked from getting insurance.

• Now, in 2011 alone, a large group of seniors (the “doughnut hole” seniors) saved some $2.1 million by providing them a 50 percent drug discount when they hit the big gap in their drug coverage. 2012 should be even better.

• Now in 2011 alone, 360,000 small businesses, which now pay up to 18 percent more than large companies for employee health insurance, get some tax relief to compensate. That helped some 2 million workers, too.

Most seriously, maybe, Berg, through the Ryan budget, voted to kill the coverage for preventive services for 32 million seniors. His vote keeps them from screening for cervical cancer, bone density, cardiovascular and colorectal screenings.

In spite of what he or his mother tell us, Berg has just voted to eliminate them all, many affecting seniors, children and small businesses. Thank goodness, his way hasn’t won, so far. If lawmakers have concerns about parts of a law, they should use their time and effort to improve it, not to score some political points for upcoming elections.