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Column

Foster: We need to strengthen health care

Health care is something that concerns everyone. We all want what’s best for the health and well-being of ourselves and our families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans now have access to health care, and health insurance companies no longer can deny coverage to individuals because of their pre-existing conditions.

But this progress is in jeopardy. For seven years after President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Republicans promised to give us a better plan with lower costs. Instead, they offered us a plan that would have eliminated coverage for 24 million Americans, including 43,000 individuals right here in the 11th District. Under the “Trumpcare” plan, individuals older than 50 could have been charged up to five times more than other people, and the guarantee of coverage for pre-existing conditions would have been stripped away.

Even after their plan failed, Republicans continue to sabotage our health care system and make it more expensive for hardworking Americans to get covered. The Republican tax plan that passed last year will cause premiums to rise in the coming years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that this repeal will force premiums to go up by 10 percent. In Illinois, health care premiums on the marketplace will go up an average of almost $2,000 a year.

If Republicans succeed at this sabotage, 130 million Americans with health conditions, including asthma, diabetes, cancer and mental health issues, could lose access to health care. This especially could endanger the coverage of 68 million women and girls with pre-existing conditions unique to them, including pregnancy or a previous birth via cesarean section.  

Children with pre-existing conditions are particularly vulnerable to these schemes to weaken health care. Whether they are born with special circumstances or develop medical conditions through disease or accidents, they will face a lifetime fear and uncertainty if the protections of the Affordable Care Act are repealed, and they will have to spend far more on health care coverage.

Do not believe anyone who says we can’t do more to fix health care. Congress can and should do more to stop skyrocketing health care premiums. The Affordable Care Act has given millions the opportunity to live longer, more productive lives. We owe it to all Americans and our children to make sure they have the same opportunity.

• Congressman Bill Foster represents the 11th District in Illinois, which includes Joliet, Aurora, Bolingbrook and Naperville. For more than 20 years, he worked as a high-energy physicist.

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