Bera Rebukes Changes to ACA; Primary Challengers Grant, Westmoreland Offer Differing Healthcare Solutions

October 14, 2017 | 

As expected, changes made by President Donald J. Trump to the Affordable Care Act have drawn strong responses from across the political spectrum. In the race for California's high competitive 7th Congressional District the response from candidates seeking that office is no exception.

For Dr. Ami Bera (D - Elk Grove) who is in his third term representing the district, the change to the ACA by Trump to end subsidies was quickly criticized. In a press release issued by his Washington DC office, Bera said the President is willingly undermining the act to the detriment of those who it serves.

“This is sabotage, plain and simple,” Bera said. “Why is this administration so set on hurting millions of Americans? As a doctor, I swore an oath to do no harm – it’s time the Trump administration take that same oath."

Citing a study from the Congressional Budget Office, Bera asserted the change would increase insurance premiums and increase the deficit. He also noted the timing of the executive action could destabilize insurance markets just as the annual open enrollment period is starting.

"This decision will raise premium costs and increase the deficit according to the Congressional Budget Office. Creating confusion and undermining insurance markets less than three weeks before open enrollment hurts those who need insurance the most," he said.

Bera added that following the failure of legislation attempts to roll back the ACA, he was hopeful that a bipartisan legislative approach could have been initiated to strengthen the system.

"Instead, President Trump has undermined the Affordable Care Act at every turn, just to fulfill a political promise," Bera added.

Of the three opponents who are challenging Bera, Republican candidate Andrew Grant argued that the responsibility for authorizing the subsidies formally called the Cost Sharing  Reduction, lies with Congress, not with Trump. 

"The Trump Administration fulfilled a legal obligation to not continue to fund the Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR) and rightfully placed the responsibility on Congress to decide if CSR appropriations should be made available in the future," Grant said.

Grant also argues efforts to "prop-up" coverage for the rising healthcare costs keep government "at the center of control of people’s health."

"The effect? Reduced choice of care, a weakened patient-doctor relationship, and rising cost with no incentives for patients to seek value or for businesses in the healthcare industry to earn consumer business," Grant said.

As a solution, Grant said the ACA should be replaced with a market-based solution that will encourage competition as a way of reducing costs.

"The real harm is the continued misuse of taxpayer dollars to delay the replacement of Obamacare (ACA) with something that re-prioritizes to focus on healthy outcomes for the patient while generating the competition essential to lowering cost and creating choice," he said.

The other Republican challenger for the seat, Dr. Yona Barash, was not reached for comment.

The third challenger that Bera will face in next year's primary election is fellow Democratic party member Brad Westmoreland. While Bera has supported the ACA and Grant seeks to replace it with marked-based solutions, Westmoreland strongly criticized Trump's executive order and supports a widening of healthcare access.

"In this system, a reality TV star from New York can orchestrate the collapse of insurance markets with the stroke a pen," Westmoreland said. "In this system, a physician from a small town in California can perpetuate health care inequality in exchange for campaign donations. The few reap the benefits; the many foot the bill."

As a solution, Westmoreland said he supports a single-payer system, and that if there is seriousness in reforming the system, healthcare must be viewed as a right.  This change could be accomplished, he asserts, by expanding Medicare to every American.

"We must take health care out of the hands of reckless Presidents, compromised Congressmen, and profit-driven industrialists and give it back to the people and their health care providers," he said. "If we do not, our children and grandchildren will inherit from us a yoke of bondage that grows heavier with each passing generation."

As the race for the 7th district heats up in 2018, the national healthcare debate will undoubtedly continue to be one of the hotly contested issues.  

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