LTE: An Open Letter to Iowa Senator Joni Ernst

Hello Senator Ernst,

I am writing you to voice my extreme displeasure with the current proceedings in the Senate regarding the attempted passage of the American Health Care Act. After the GOP cried foul during the process of drawing up and passing the Affordable Health Care Act in 2009, I am extremely perplexed by the tactics the current Senate is using to attempt to squeak through the American Health Care Act. When the Affordable Health Care Act was being debated, there were over 100 committee hearings and roundtables in the senate, more than 100 adoptions of minority amendments in committee, and had 25 consecutive days of debate on the floor of the senate. Yet, this was met by Republican outcry for lack of transparency and the bill being rushed through legislature without full comprehension of the bill.

Today, the Senate is drafting the American Health Care Act completely behind closed doors in secret, with no plan to bring the bill to the floor for public hearings, with zero opportunity for majority or minority amendments to be adopted in committee, and no chance for senators to hold town halls on the topic. This is partisan hypocrisy of the highest degree and is unacceptable behavior from our elected officials whose purpose is not to represent their donors, not to represent their party, and not to represent their president, but to represent and be held accountable by their constituents.

Furthermore, with recent rumors that the Senate Bill will largely reflect the American Health Care Act the House recently passed, it is imperative to understand how injurious and inadequate the bill truly is. The bill unscrupulously passed in the House prior to the CBO’s score announcement. While the House’s version of the bill would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the upcoming decade, falling substantially short from the proclaimed $337 billion over 10 years as was originally projected. Furthermore, the bill would result in approximately 24 million people uninsured by 2026, raising the uninsured rate to 18.6%. With Medicaid facing $834 billion in cuts, and a vast majority of the savings going towards tax cuts for high-income individuals in the highest tax brackets. Essentially, the AHCA is a tax bill paired with Medicaid cuts to offset the costs and almost all of the benefits go to the highest income households in the country.

With the bill cutting costs for those with mental health issues, pre-existing conditions, and many female health factors as ‘unnecessary risks’. The bill also creates a greater economic burden on those who are already economically vulnerable. For example, a 64-year-old making $26,500 would see their premiums rise from $1,700 annually to $13,600 to $16,100, more than nine times that person’s premium under current legislation.

The American Health Care Act is repugnant and should not be allowed to pass the Senate. From the anomalous lack of transparency in the Senate in the drafting of this bill, to the lack of human empathy and morality in the nature of the House’s AHCA, the bill will not help every day Americans but instead, will further drive the ever growing wage gap. In the state of Iowa, with the median household income of $54,736 and approximately 17,000 enrolled in Medicaid (43% of Medicaid enrollees are children), this bill will do far greater harm than good to those who greatly need insurance to help to break out of the cycle of poverty and health vulnerability. Even further, this bill will harm many of those in rural Iowa, as it is projected to create financial crisis for rural clinics and hospitals throughout the country.

This bill does not represent Iowans and you shall be held directly accountable if you are to vote on it and it passes. I urge you to choose principle over partisanship, and represent your constituents on this matter.

Your concerned constituent

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