July 18, 2017

Over 100,000 Americans Respond to Trump Administration Request for Comment on Plan to Sabotage the ACA: Overwhelming Majority Opposed

Senators Urge President Trump to Listen to the American People, Work to Improve and Strengthen Health Care Instead of Stripping Coverage from Millions

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - Following Senator McConnell's statement that he will seek a vote on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with no plan for a replacement of the law, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with 12 of her colleagues, today called on President Trump to listen to over 100,000 Americans who responded to a request for public input from the Administration on how to reduce the "regulatory burden" imposed by the ACA by strongly opposing any attempt to weaken or repeal the health care law. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) also signed the letter asking President Trump to work with them to improve health care, instead of sabotaging it.

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a request for information soliciting public comments on President Trump's Executive Order 13765, stating his Administration's intent to repeal the ACA, and directing all executive departments and agencies to defer and delay the "regulatory burden" imposed by the ACA in the interim. Over a period of 30 days, more than 3,200 comments were submitted to HHS, including two that compiled responses from over 100,000 Americans. The vast majority wrote in opposition to the ACA's repeal and many commenters asked the Trump Administration to either leave the law as it is, or work in a bipartisan manner to improve it.

"Your Administration is attempting to ram a partisan ACA repeal through the Senate, negotiating in secret and refusing to inform the public or even hold a single hearing on this matter," wrote the senators. "But when HHS offered Americans an opportunity to comment on your efforts to ‘repeal and replace' the ACA, they responded - making it resoundingly clear that they oppose your actions. It is imperative that you listen. We invite you to work with us to improve and strengthen health care in the United States - rather than pressing ahead with plans to eliminate health coverage for over twenty million Americans and enact deep cuts to Medicaid."

In addition to the 14 commenters cited in their letter, the senators included a sample of public comments from Americans in all 50 states.

Kass from Pennsylvania wrote: "I am a small business owner with Ulcerative Colitis. In 2005, when I was diagnosed with this debilitating disease, I was on disability because I could not work. I was so sick that I could not drive a car to get to work. When I obtained healthcare under the ACA, my doctor got my symptoms under control and I was not only able to get off disability, I started my own business and employed others. Today, instead of being a drain on my fellow taxpayers, I am paying taxes as both an individual and a corporation and I am contributing to the local and international economy with my business. If I lose healthcare coverage-which I am likely to do under the new GOP "healthcare" proposals-I will have to close my business and go back on disability. I will again become a burden on the state. Does that make sense? No, it does not."

Robin from Alaska wrote: "We were healthy, happy, insured, and living well within our means until the day our daughter was born. A complication during birth landed her on full life-support for two weeks and in the NICU for 31 days. The bill for her first year was over $800,000. The ACA kept us from going bankrupt."

Dana from Vermont wrote: "The Affordable Care Act has improved the lives of millions of people by providing access to affordable and essential health care services; by providing access to Medicaid for the children, families, and elderly who need it; by protecting people with pre-existing conditions; by protecting our most vulnerable citizens. ... The GOP health care bill passed in the House and now under consideration in the Senate is cruel, reckless, and dangerous, and will result in millions of people losing coverage, or worse. Don't undermine the health care of millions of Americans with the repeal of the ACA, with the deplorable GOP bill, or with Executive Order 13765."

Andrea from Utah wrote: "The Affordable Care Act needs to be fixed, not repealed. The AHCA and Better Care Reconciliation Acts both make health care worse for tens of millions of Americans. I care far more about the hundreds of thousands of people in my home state of Utah who would lose their health care and hundreds of thousands more who would have needed services, medication and treatments cut for the benefit of a few politicians to carry out a promise of repeal. ... On health care we need politicians willing to reach across the aisle to work together to do what's best for the American people. Right now there is no better solution than the Affordable Care Act, which is responsible for improving insured rates and care provided in every state in our nation."

Connie from Indiana wrote: "It seems to make more sense to build on what is already available. Why are we starting over when millions have benefitted from the program? Sure, it needs some changes but did anyone really think that something so new and comprehensive would work without some changes? Build on what is already existing rather than scrap it and start all over. Let's stop thinking about what party wants to do what and look at the overall benefits and challenges and build on that foundation."

The text of the letter, along with an appendix of 132 comments is available here. Copies of the letter were also sent to HHS Secretary Tom Price, and CMS Administrator Seema Verma.