Sen. Collins gets Christmas cards with health care stories

Mainers from across the state visited Senator Susan Collins’ office in Portland on Tuesday, delivering holiday cards with personal messages asking her to stand against attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

“I hope that you will do all that you can to protect the ACA. Without it, my mother will not have health insurance,” wrote Helen Lukacs of Portland. “She does not have any employer benefits and would not qualify for MaineCare. She is not old enough for Medicare, so without the ACA and federal subsidies she will have no options.”

The thirty holiday visitors told personal stories about how the federal health care law, also called Obamacare, has affected their own lives and those of their families. Some had received treatment for life-threatening illnesses while others had seen their premiums drop by 90%.

More than 63,000 Mainers receive a monthly premium support tax credit averaging $342 in order to afford coverage. Many more have benefited from other provisions of the Act, including a prohibition on denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

It’s unclear how the Republican-controlled Congress will go about attempting to repeal the law. In the past they have passed bills repealing it completely with no alternative mechanism for coverage, but that was when they knew that President Obama’s veto would prevent their proposals from becoming law.

Repealing the law entirely would mean eliminating coverage for tens of millions of Americans, raising costs for most of those still able to afford insurance and would allow insurance companies to deny care to vulnerable patients.

Collins, who represents a critical vote on the issue in the closely-divided U.S. Senate, has expressed some opposition to a repeal of the ACA without a plan to continue its key provisions.

“You can’t just drop insurance for 84,000 people,” Collins told the Press Herald last week. “I think what we need to focus on first is what would we replace it with and what are the steps that it would take to do that?”

Collins also said she had reservations about Republican plans to privatize Medicare.

“I am writing to you in honor of a friend who was suicidal and able to access life-saving psychiatric emergency care because of the ACA,” wrote Nora Hefner of Portland in her Christmas card. “We are counting on you!”

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