BRISTOL- Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy joined local government and healthcare representatives at Bristol Hospital Thursday for a roundtable discussion where he argued in defense of the Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump has called for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare, which he has frequently referred to as a “disaster.”
Murphy argued that repealing the act, which created a government-funded health insurance program, would be a disaster for those with pre-existing conditions.
“It is not a perfect plan but it is a pretty darn good platform to see that people who five or six years ago could not get insurance are covered,” said Murphy. “The president is continuing his curious campaign to pull apart protections that most people in this country support. He has made it his priority to repeal the plan but that didn’t happen because the people rose up. Now, the administration is trying to undermine it.”
Murphy said that the president is pulling funding for marketing the government insurance plan. He has also been promoting “short-term plans” or what Murphy called “junk plans.” He said these plans don’t cover maternity or pre-existing conditions but are less expensive and are more attractive to young, healthy people. He said that there should not be “skimpy plans” and “regulated plans.” He argued that “costs of expensive drugs should be spread out over everybody.”
Murphy said that President Trump has joined a lawsuit started by several Republican attorney generals which is intended to invalidate the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional.
“If this happens, hundreds of thousands of people in Connecticut would lose their insurance overnight,” said Murphy. “It would also eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions.”
Murphy said Connecticut has passed laws preventing people with pre-existing conditions being discriminated against. However, he said Connecticut would have a hard time in the insurance market if other states don’t have those requirements.
Participants in the discussion included Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Health, Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and Hamden Mayor Kurt Leng.
Also participating were healthcare providers, patients with healthcare issues, healthcare activists from organizations like NORD (The National Organization for Rare Diseases) and representatives from organizations such as the Connecticut Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association.
Barwis said during the discussion that the Hospital was treating a “tremendous amount of undocumented people” who had no healthcare coverage.
“We stand with the American Hospital Association in saying that we are 100 percent in favor of defending the Affordable Care Act,” said Barwis.
Zoppo-Sassu said that healthcare is an issue that affects “so many people.”
“There are so many people who are one medical bill away from financial catastrophe and the stress that brings,” she said.
Leng said his son Cooper was 6 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016. He completed his treatment in April and is now in remission.
“This is a moral issue for me,” he said. “I don’t see how this is a political issue and not a basic human right. 50 percent of people have pre-existing conditions. We have a two-class system. The fact that the government has joined in on this lawsuit sickens me.”