Letter to the Editor

Last year, Brian Fitzpatrick, our current Congressman in the PA 1st Congressional District, received well deserved praise for his vote against the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. However, since then many of his votes with respect to healthcare decidedly do NOT deserve praise despite what he says in his recent political flyer. (Which was disguised as an informational piece on health care and paid for from our tax dollars.) His record is no longer pro healthcare for all.

For example, recently there was a series of bills in the House of Representatives with regard to the Affordable Care Act. The actions taken would weaken the ACA and ultimately affect its ability to provide affordable healthcare for all. Fitzpatrick voted to approve all these bills.

Here are some of the effects of these recent bills affecting healthcare on which Fitzpatrick voted aye:

- HR 6479 - Effectively removes the requirement for coverage of pre-existing conditions and other essential health benefits such as maternity and pediatric care.

- HR 6311 - Broader access to catastrophic insurance. This sounds desirable but many of the people purchasing this deceptively low cost insurance may find that the high deductibles may be more than they can afford and thus many will wind up either forgoing needed health care or resorting to hospital emergency rooms, thus putting excess financial strain on our hospitals.

- HR 6199 - Adds payments for fitness-center fees and over-the-counter drugs to the list of reimbursable expenses from health savings accounts. Although this seems like a plus, it would only be of help to those whose taxable income exceeds those in the middle and lower income brackets.

- HR 184 - Removes an excise tax on manufacturers and importers of medical devices. This repeal takes away a means of financing premium subsidies in the ACA marketplace and would lead to an estimated increase in the federal debt of approximately 20 billion dollars through fiscal 2028.

It should be noted that the latter two bills are fiscally irresponsible. Neither the loss of the excise tax as noted above per HR 184 and the income tax losses as per HR 6199 are paid for. Ironically, the increase in the federal debt from the adoption of these two bills would most likely provide an excuse for those Republicans who already want to reduce Medicare and/or Social Security benefits to do so. In fact, Democrats in the House proposed to delay passage of HR 6311 until Congress scales back the 2017 package of tax cuts already projected to increase annual deficits by at least $1 trillion over 10 years. Congressman Fitzpatrick voted against this proposed delay.

All in all, it appears that our “Independent voice” in Congress is not so independent after all.

- Peg Dissinger, Newtown

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