For University of Alaska students, the issue of health care is more than political ideals; Sullivan and Young respond
University of Alaska students are circulating an online petition urging the state’s congressional delegation to not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without having a concrete plan to replace it.
Despite differences in political views, students who drafted the petition say completely dismantling the ACA without a replacement plan would be “disastrous for the thousands of Alaskans who depend on this law for their health care.”
Chaz Rivas is the President of the University of Alaska, Anchorage Political Science Association and supports repealing the ACA. He’s also a part of the student group called What’s The Plan?, who drafted the petition. While he disagrees with the health care law, he said whatever happens next should be in the best interest of Alaskans.
“To have this open vacuum of legislation just gone, with nothing to supplement it, is just kind of irresponsible,” Rivas said.
The petition says if a replacement plan isn’t put into place, 62,000 Alaskans will lose their health coverage, increasing the number of uninsured Alaskans by over 50 percent. In addition to other financial issues Alaskans could face, the petition goes on to say that a repeal of the ACA will “disproportionately affect young professionals and students.”
“I am a college student in a family where health insurance has been one of our biggest monthly costs. Being able to buy insurance through the Obamacare exchange lowered our health insurance costs by more than half, while providing more coverage than we had before. I need to know what Congress plans to do about our healthcare system so we can budget accordingly,” UAA student Kaylin Jones said.
Rivas said students are looking for three main elements they would like to see incorporated in whatever replaces the ACA. The first is continuing the option of being covered under their parents’ health plans until they are 26.
“In Alaska specifically, with costs being higher in general, being able to stay on your parents’ health insurance is very helpful,” Rivas said.
The second element students would like to see addresses the cost of prescription drugs.
“If you’re going to talk about affordable health care, you can’t do that without talking about some way [of] managing the price of drugs,” Rivas said.
The final issue Rivas said needs to be addressed is continuing to find a way to make health care affordable for new graduates who are taking the first steps into their careers and starting families.
Mark Simon, Vice President of the UAA Political Science Association helped spearhead the petition and would like to see the ACA remain in place. He said the issue of finding common ground for what happens next goes beyond policy and political ideology. Simon is concerned that the longer someone might have to go without health coverage after the ACA is repealed puts them at unnecessary risk of not being able to pay for treatment if they become ill or injured.
“This is an issue of not putting the cart before the horse and having that replacement ready to go when the repeal happens,” Simon said.
In response to an email from the Press regarding Senator Dan Sullivan’s stance on plans for replacing the Affordable Care Act:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.” I appreciate you contacting me on this issue, and welcome the opportunity to respond.
In 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Americans were promised that they would be able to keep their health care plan if they chose, however millions of Americans have lost their coverage. Americans were promised that they could keep their doctors, and that premiums would be lowered for families. In reality, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA will cost the American people $1.207 trillion from 2016 through 2025.
To date, start-up costs total more than $73.49 billion, and the program is far from being fully implemented. More money has been directed toward incentivizing doctors and hospitals to transition to the new system than toward actual coverage expansion. ACA marketplaces are collapsing all over the United States. There are up to eight states that will have only one provider in the insurance marketplace, including Alaska. These costs are only increasing the tax burden on the American people–not improving their access to affordable care. In short, the ACA has been anything but affordable.
As Attorney General for the State of Alaska, I sued the Obama administration over the constitutionality of the ACA. As your United States Senator, I have continued fighting to repeal and replace this law. This is why I voted in favor of H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which repealed most of the policies and mandates implemented by the Affordable Care Act. This law passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but unfortunately President Obama chose to veto this legislation. Voting to repeal the ACA was a promise I made to Alaskans when I ran for office and is a promise that I have wanted to keep.
The ACA has failed to deliver on the promises made by its supporters, especially in Alaska. Premiums for Alaskans are skyrocketing. Alaskan families and businesses are asking for help, as paying for health care coverage is no longer affordable. Not a day goes by when I do not hear from Alaskans who worry about having to make tough choices–food on the table or health care coverage for their family. This is unacceptable and I will not idly stand by while Americans continue to suffer under the weight of this law.
In addition to the increase in taxes, insurance premiums in Alaska are some of the highest in the United States. Small businesses and middle class families in Alaska are being penalized for not taking the federal subsidy while at the same time being forced to change their coverage. As a result, thousands of Alaskans have lost their health care coverage they once relied on, leading to higher deductibles, fewer choices and less freedom. According to media reports in Alaska, the top four highest places to purchase health care are in Alaska.
Until full repeal is realized, Alaskans are desperate for relief. That is why I recently introduced S.3320, the Ensuring Health Care Opportunities Act. This legislation will offer Alaskans, along with residents of states and localities with only one insurance company offering plans on the exchange, immediate relief and the option to buy health insurance that does not include certain Obamacare mandates that might not apply to them. For example, under my legislation, an individual could pick and choose the services that are most important to them. My plan allows tailored plans for each individual instead of paying for a one-size-fits-all package that has caused insurance prices to skyrocket across the United States. Those options are still available for those that want them, but it is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach just does not work. Alaskans are desperate for more health care options and this legislation will provide those choices for all Americans.
This is a fight that I am not tackling alone. There are several bills in the United States Senate that are working to fix sections of the ACA until a full repeal and replace solution can be offered. I am a supporter of legislation that makes health care affordable while getting the government out of the health care business.
Thank you again for contacting me on this issue. If you have any more questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or my staff. My office can be reached at 202-224-3004, or online at www.sullivan.senate.gov.
United States Senator
In response to an email from the Press regarding Representative Don Young’s stance on plans for replacing the Affordable Care Act:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare. I appreciate having the benefit of your thoughts.
In 2010, President Obama signed the ACA into law. The President promised Americans that the average family would save $2,500 per year and could keep their former health plans if they liked them. These and other promises were enough to force the massive federal healthcare overhaul through Congress, where Democrats controlled both Chambers. However, I warned my fellow Alaskans that some of these promises were fraudulent while others would come at great cost. This has unfortunately shown to be true and the President's promises false.
On November 8, 2016, the American people elected Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States. Additionally, they chose Republicans in the House and Senate elections to maintain control of both chambers. This was in part due to the President's failing healthcare legislation that was proving to be far from affordable or even competitive. For instance, in Alaska we have seen multiple years of premium increases nearing 40% as well as many insurers leaving the state entirely to the point where only one remains.
I have been opposed to the ACA given its government-knows-best approach, its broken promises, and the inadequate results of its real world application. However, some ideas in the bill were positive, such as guaranteeing access to insurance for patients with preexisting condition and allowing children to stay on their parents' healthcare plans until age 26, and could be included in a future repeal and replacement plan.
There is serious work to be done with the new Congress and new President, especially regarding healthcare, but also including a number of additional major reforms and policy provisions to roll back many of the last Administration's destructive rules and regulations. Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind moving forward.
Once again, thank you for expressing your views on this issue. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to sign up for my e-newsletter at https://donyoung.house.gov/forms/emailsignup and visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RepDonYoung. Doing so will allow me to provide you with updates on this and other important issues. If I can be of any assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Congressman for All Alaska