I used Kickstarter to open a small manufacturing business in Portland four years ago. Today I employ over 20 Maine people, many of whom have health care coverage through Obamacare. My business is safer and more sustainable because of the Affordable Care Act and I’m counting on Congress, and particularly Sen. Susan Collins, to preserve it for the sake of my employees and my community.
My employees, my co-workers, are helping me realize a dream. I started Zootility Tools by inventing Pocket Monkey, the world’s first credit card-sized multitool. Today Zootility Tools produces other multitools, openers and more. My company is on a mission to reinvent American manufacturing, and the ACA has helped greatly.
As we each know, the security of good health coverage is vital. Also, we know that buying it on the open market, for individuals and families, is expensive. Affordable coverage through the ACA has been a huge help to launching my business. Sen. Collins must do her part to improve, not eliminate, the ACA.
Repealing ACA will be devastating to Maine families and our economy. To start, by 2019, 95,000 Mainers would have their health coverage taken away, and with that they’d lose basic security for themselves and their families. Like my employees and me, these are almost all working people. If the ACA is repealed, we would go back to the days when insurance companies could deny coverage or raise rates for someone who had any kind of pre-existing condition and when medical costs were the leading cause of personal bankruptcy.
Our state’s hospitals, community health centers and the doctors, nurses and others who provide care would see a big loss of income. Many more people would show up at the hospital very sick and unable to pay their bills. In 2019 alone, repealing Obamacare would take $556 million out of Maine’s economy. And hospitals, health centers and other providers would see an increase of $475 million in care that is not covered by health insurance or Medicaid.
All that loss of health spending would cost 13,000 Mainers their jobs in 2019. And that doesn’t even include the challenges to businesses like mine because their employees no longer have access to affordable health coverage.
All that loss of income to health care providers and loss of jobs would mean that Mainers would have hundreds of millions of dollars less to spend in our local communities and with businesses like mine.
Unfortunately, the whole debate about Obamacare has become very political, losing sight of the actual impact on people’s lives and our communities. It’s now up to Maine’s congressional representatives, and particularly Sen. Collins, to put the people of Maine before partisan politics. It takes only three Republican senators to join Democrats in putting a halt to repealing the Affordable Care Act.
President Trump and Republicans in Congress have said they want to replace Obamacare with something better, but after six years of trying, they still can’t agree on what would take its place. That may be because every plan that Republicans have come up with would still take away coverage from millions of Americans, produce huge increases in deductibles, allow insurance companies to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and tax employee health coverage. That’s not an improvement for Maine families or businesses.
Instead, Maine’s congressional delegation should focus on improving the Affordable Care Act, with lower premiums, lower deductibles and better choice of doctors and hospitals. One way to do that is to take a page from good business practices and use the purchasing power of our government to drive down prescription drug prices. Another would be to provide everyone with a choice of Medicare, which has a better track record of controlling health care costs than private health insurance companies.
The bottom line for business in Maine is that the Affordable Care Act means more secure employees and more customers in thriving communities. That’s good news for Maine.