I wrote an email to my congressional representative, Erik Paulsen, asking him to not support the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. I think congress should make improvements — and should have been doing so for years — instead of wasting time on repealing it. Below is the email I received in response (which I assume is a form letter).

Dear Scott:

Thank you for letting me know of your support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Like you, I believe that health care reform is necessary to lower costs for families, small businesses, and individuals. However, the ACA takes the wrong approach and is hurting more people than it’s helping.

100,000 Minnesotans lost their current health insurance plans as a result of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota’s decision to stop selling the majority of its plans on the state’s health insurance exchange, which was created under the ACA. The instability in the marketplace is causing premiums in the individual market to increase by an average of 50-67 percent next year, and four-out-of-five insurance companies offering plans in the exchange will cap their enrollment.

In fact, individuals, families, and small businesses are continuing to see their health insurance premiums dramatically increase rather than decrease. Americans are losing the insurance coverage they had and liked, they are seeing their full-time jobs become part-time jobs, and they now have fewer choices of doctors and plans.

Many Minnesotans are hurting under the law, such as Pam, who saw her premium increase 61%, and who is expecting to pay at least $2,000 per month in 2017 for a high deductible plan. She and her husband, a small business owner, don’t qualify for a subsidy and are no longer able to afford their insurance. Then there’s Theresa, who has a history of cancer and needs reliable medical care. Her premium increased so much that she had to switch to a restricted plan. Her new plan forced her to change all of her doctors, incur $5,000 in out-of-network costs, and limit her physician visits.

These are just some examples of the harmful impact this law is having. I believe people need more choices and more control over their health care, not more mandates from Washington bureaucrats under a one-size-fits-all approach. By working together, we can fix the current situation, increase competition, and make commonsense reforms that reduce costs, improve quality, protect the doctor-patient relationship, and ensure access and choice for individuals, employees, and families.

Thanks again for sharing your views, as I appreciate hearing from you. Please feel free to contact me whenever I can be of assistance.


Erik Paulsen
Member of Congress

Here is my response, posted publicly:

Representative Paulsen,

Thank you for your response.

You make a number of claims without citing sources. For example, you start out with an unsubstantiated claim that “the ACA… is hurting more people than it’s helping.” I’m not sure how you define hurt vs. help. Twenty-three million people have insurance under ACA that did not have insurance before ACA. http://www.vox.com/cards/obamacare/who-gets-health-insurance-through-obamacare.

Surely getting insurance coverage is helpful not hurtful. Your anecdotes of higher cost can be held against babys with cancer not needing to worry about losing health care; and a former republican campaign staffer being saved by ACA.

The ACA is not perfect and it needs to be improved, not repealed. Repealing without immediately replacing it will cause harm to people and to the economy. Republicans have been too fixated on repealing, with more than 50 votes trying to remove some or all of the plan, rather than making sensible changes to improve it.

“In 2015, the Congressional Budget Office … said that the number of additional Americans who would lose coverage or be unable to get it for the first time would start at 19 million in the first year and increase incrementally before leveling off to 24 million within a couple of years.” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jan/05/what-would-be-impact-if-affordable-care-act-repeal/

Some of those people will get hurt at work, or get influenza, or get cancer. Some of those people will not go to the doctor or get prescriptions because they won’t be covered. Some of those people will die because the ACA was repealed. This country CAN AFFORD to continue to provide health insurance until congress finds ways to improve ACA.

Repealing would be a costly mistake to our economy.

“While it acknowledged some uncertainty, the CBO estimated that over a 10-year period, repealing the law would increase federal budget deficits by $353 billion.” http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2017/jan/05/what-would-be-impact-if-affordable-care-act-repeal/

Additionally, jobs are at stake.

“A collection of reports released in recent weeks indicates that repealing those pieces of the ACA, which contribute massively to state and local economies, would remove millions of jobs and contract economic activity across states.” https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/obamacare-economic-effects-repeal/512618/

The ACA provides protection for people with pre-existing conditions. I am a cancer survivor. Without this protection, I would not be able to get insurance if I left my job and tried to coverage on the open market.

There are many other benefits of the ACA, including coverage for young adults under their parent’s plan, and closing the donut hole in Medicare prescription coverage.

The American Medical Association has urged Congress not to remove coverage for people. http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/312576-doctors-group-warns-against-loss-of-coverage-from-obamacare-repeal

The American Hospital Association warned that repeal without replacement would be a mistake and would cause harm to people http://blog.aha.org/post/170106-hospitals-must-respond-as-congress-begins-repealing-parts-of-the-aca

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget warned that, “According to our latest estimates, repealing the ACA in its entirety would cost roughly $350 billion through 2027 under conventional scoring and $150 billion using dynamic scoring.” They also estimated that, “Repealing ACA would increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million.” http://crfb.org/papers/cost-full-repeal-affordable-care-act

Please reconsider your stance and look at the whole picture. You and the republicans have presented no viable replacement plans. If I am mistaken, please let me know the specifics.

Until then, help to improve the Affordable Care Act. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Scott DeToffol