I was appalled by the actions of House Republicans in their attempt to gut the Affordable Care Act. The word “draconian” has been used frequently in analysis of this congressional action. That’s not the adjective you want to attach to anything that will affect your life. I looked it up: “Draconian relates to Draco, a seventh-century Athenian lawmaker whose code of laws was unusually severe or cruel.”

Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have health coverage by 2026 under the House Republican plan to replace the ACA, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and it is estimated that states would dramatically scale back their safety nets, resulting in 14 million fewer poor people covered by Medicaid by next year. The severe and obviously cruel tactics employed by President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and their henchmen produced legislation without compassion, truth or merit.

In my years as an emergency room nurse, I learned what the lack of preventive care, usually caused by inadequate health insurance, can do to a body. “Train wreck” described folks who finally succumbed to problems that had been ignored for years because of the fear of the financial impact; they finally presented in an ER with irreversible disease and/or at death’s door, hoping to be saved. Yes, we never turned anyone away and provided state-of-the-art care, but it only put off their inevitable demise.

One of the statistics that many of us who care for these unfortunate souls know to be true is that the lack of health insurance kills. (Listen up, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho.) A study conducted at Harvard Medical School found that “uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher risk of death than their privately insured counterparts.” Health insurance prevents life-ending diseases – a verifiable fact that this administration and our representatives choose not to care about, because they are so cruel.

Lara Ashouwak, R.N.

retired lieutenant commander, U.S. Public Health Service