Guest Commentary

Guest commentary: False choices in GOP health care proposal

Dr. Emily Riegel
Dr. Emily Riegel

In his May 10 guest commentary, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder painted a confusing picture of American healthcare. He alleged that the failing Affordable Care Act is forcing millions to lose health care coverage because of limited marketplace options and unaffordable premiums for now skyrocketing insurance. He falsely asserted a binary choice: Either transition the country to “socialized medicine,” or embrace what he characterized as a “return to personalized medicine” in the form of the Republicans proposal — the American Health Care Act.

For the past seven and a half years, his party has repeatedly opted for all-out elimination, rather than improvement, of the ACA. These actions directly lead to destabilization of the insurance marketplaces …and to a failure in crafting adequate regulations preventing insurance companies from abandoning coverage regions … and a failure to regulate the profiteering of the insurance industry. The GOP consistently waged a political vendetta against the ACA, with ordinary Americans caught in the crossfire.

It is time to stop. In health care, the practice of evidence based medicine reminds doctors and nurses to look at evidence when making treatment decisions, not just to use one’s intuition or instinct. It helps avoid making major decisions, absent facts to support it. In fact, there are penalties when one strays from practicing evidence based medicine.

It is galling to realize that for more than seven years, the GOP hasn’t offered any other plan, or even tried to improve upon the current plan. Despite what proponents say about AHCA being better, we are still waiting for their evidence. Where is the evidence that it will provide access to affordable, secure, evidence-based healthcare when we need it and without bankrupting us (or the nation) in the process?

In pretending there was evidence that the AHCA delivered on its promises, Yoder assumed that his constituents are fools because there was no evidence. He eschewed the option to wait for a Congressional Budget Office review, which was not issued until May 24, and voted without any evidence for a politically-motivated bill on May 4.

Any doctor who prescribed chemotherapy without evidence of cancer would be considered a quack. Shall we begin holding reckless lawmakers liable for malpractice as they lightly toy with so many lives?

The CBO’s score, not unlike a positive biopsy report for cancer, brings bad news for the AHCA. Twenty-three million Americans now face a complete loss of security without health insurance. This is catastrophic.

If a common medical treatment were determined to be putting 23 million lives in jeopardy, that treatment would be immediately terminated and no one would ever consider it again. Yet here we are, watching lawmakers repeatedly voting for irresponsible legislation.

Without listening to their patients or waiting for evidence, Yoder and the GOP have written a prescription poisoning the health and well-being of millions of Americans, opting to pay an undetermined price just to score a long-yearned for political victory. They could have worked harder and certainly should have done better for their constituents and the country.

He claimed that his vote for this destructive legislation kept a promised priority to repeal the ACA. Apparently, his highest moral calling is to be “promise keeper,” irrespective the people he ruins or the lives cut short. This is political duplicity at its worst and it must stop.

Dr. Emily Riegel is a member of the board of Indivisible Kansas City. Indivisible KC and Alliance for a Healthy Kansas are hosting a town hall with Tim Gronniger, former chief of staff at Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Thursday, June 1 at 6:30 at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center in Overland Park.