Dear Senator Crapo,
On election night, when I called to congratulate you on your victory, you were gracious, told me of your working with and listening to both sides of the aisle and accepted my offer to be in touch for moments and matters of importance to Idahoans
This is one of those moments. The matter is health care.
H.R. 1628 “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” currently before the Senate will have a devastating impact on many Idahoans. I respectfully implore you to oppose it.
The predicted problems with this legislation are compounded for Idaho in the fact that 78,000 Idahoans already have suffered for years without health care coverage, in large part because the Idaho State Government refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Idaho’s Coverage Gap will grow and access to health care will become even more unattainable with the Medicaid contraction and rising premiums predicted by the CBO.
I recently received this note from someone already in the Idaho Coverage Gap:
“Jerry, it’s a sad state of affairs. I am one of the 78,000 here in Idaho. I don’t want something for nothing, but just can’t do the premiums. And it is obviously going to get worse.”
You and I have both served as Bishops in our church. My ward is unusual in that it takes in the downtown area of Boise and the largest concentration of emergency housing for the homeless in Idaho. Our ward also has a large swath of Section 8 housing.
Because of my experiences at Church and after the election, I joined the board of the Interfaith Sanctuary, one of the three large homeless shelters in Boise and the only one that accepts families.
In these roles, I have worked with (and conducted funerals for) the most vulnerable in our community and learned of the mental and physical problems that led to their homelessness and, like an iron boot, kept them there.
Access to health care through Medicaid is often the only thing that gives hope and the possibility of returning to productivity.
The coverage contractions and increasing premiums caused by the BCRA will only result in more homelessness, loss of hope and a growing social burden and responsibility.
In this divisive and individualistic political and cultural environment, I hope you will apply our shared values to encourage care for our poorer brothers and sisters.
The ACA was meant to do that, by spreading the risks and costs of health care to as many as possible. (We all share the costs and risks of driving with car insurance! Why not health care?)
After strenuous and constant opposition, the ACA mandate is reportedly “hated,” but the fact is that without it (or increased taxes) more people will suffer the effects of poverty and the crushing unavailability of health care—at a cost to all of us.
Consider, for example, the statistics that show where Medicaid was expanded, the costs of emergency care went down. Otherwise, the costs of emergency care must be spread with increased taxes and higher health care prices.
For these and other reasons, the AHCA and BCRA have been characterized as “Rich Care” for some Americans rather than “Better Care” for all Americans. No surprise that recent polls show most Americans are against it.
This is not an area where deficit reduction or reducing taxes on the rich should be a consideration. A healthier society will be a happier, more productive society. Deficits and rich people will take of themselves.
Please vote against the BCRA and collaborate with both sides of the aisle to fix the ACA or otherwise spread risks and costs to make health care fair and affordable for all Idahoans and all Americans.
Thank you for your kind consideration and your continued service.
P.S. Please feel free to share this message with Senator Risch. I look forward to being in touch again on future topics, like tax reform, immigration, climate change and public lands.