It’s up to Sen. Susan Collins to save health care for older Americans and for the less fortunate. The Republican proposal doesn’t even focus on the real problems with the system – instead, it makes them worse.

Two examples:

My wife and I already pay over $15,600 for insurance, with a deductible of $5,400 for each of us. Under the bill just passed by U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and his caucus, my premium would rise instantly to $26,400 a year (five times the premium for young folks). Even with a new $8,000 tax credit, my actual insurance premium would rise to $18,400 a year from $15,600!

The plan also guts Medicaid – cutting out 25 percent of funding to start, and ending lots of innovative new programs that finally have begun to provide preventive care for those who previously had no choice but to get care in emergency rooms. With capped spending, fewer will have insurance and more will be back in the emergency rooms. It’s small wonder that most doctors and hospitals oppose this “reform.” The high-risk pools will fail with the dollars approved by the House Republicans.

It’s as clear as the day is long in Maine in May that tax reform will be up next, and those plans call for more tax cuts for the wealthiest in our country. This bill cuts $300 billion in taxes for the top earners and “saves” $800 billion. The Republicans can’t make the numbers “work” for their new tax cuts if they can’t pull a trillion dollars or more out of health care; the easiest place to find that money is from the programs that support the poor.

Sen. Collins and two or three other Republicans should stand with the majority of Americans and not the richest 1 percent.

Paul Hogan