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Philadelphia Inquirer (Letter): GOP health-care plan is un-American

This article originally appeared in the Philadelphia Enquirer.

by J. Scott Applewhite

GOP plan is un-American

The American Health Care Act is being rushed to passage by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the House leadership ("House proposal draws new heat," Thursday). It will rip apart our health care and revoke coverage for millions of Americans while raising costs for millions more.

The legislation fails to reflect the American values of fairness, community, and concern for all. It is irresponsible to vote on it without knowing the cost to taxpayers.

The bill threatens the essential care that women need. It significantly cuts coverage for women and no longer assures that women cannot be charged more than men. It will increase costs for seniors and those with preexisting conditions while slashing assistance for lower-income households in obtaining coverage.

It is unacceptable that the legislation not only attacks Medicaid expansion but also sets the Medicaid program on the road to extinction.

The only real winners are the special interests and the wealthiest Americans. This legislation includes hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthy and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

While the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, it has provided health-care coverage to tens of millions of Americans who previously went without. This proposed replacement is a huge step in the wrong direction.

|Chris Carson, president, league of Women Voters of the United States, Los Angeles

Fewer would get health care

After seven years of opposition to the Affordable Care Act and not offering an alternative, House Republicans have put forward a bill to replace it . House Speaker Paul Ryan describes it as the Republican approach to health care, relying more on abstract (and unpredictable) "market forces" and less on federal support, and constituting a "conservative wish list.

Whatever it is, multiple experts say it will lead to fewer Americans - including the most vulnerable people - able to receive health-care services. Could national leaders really want this outcome, when the rest of the developed world assures that all citizens have access to health care? This reveals an important value difference between Democrats and Republicans.

Potentially leading to higher insurance costs for everyone are the bill's provisions to drop the requirements that all Americans obtain health insurance - a requirement that made economic sense - and that businesses with 50 employees or more provide health insurance.

|Gerald D. Klein, Elkins Park

Republicans removing options

Obamacare helps people start families. It enabled me and my husband to have a baby, just as it aided a West Philly couple in adopting ("City Council hears of effects of ACA repeal," Tuesday).

Before the Affordable Care Act, to get maternity coverage through a plan I bought as an individual, I would have had to pay for a prohibitively expensive maternity rider, and the benefits would have been capped at a few thousand dollars - far from enough to cover the cost of a routine delivery, never mind an emergency. The ACA mandated that plans sold on the exchange cover essential benefits, including maternity care.

House Republicans are now pushing a replacement plan that would end this mandate at the federal level in 2019. Unless states preserve these patient protections, plans available for individual purchase will likely drop these benefits, and the people who need them will be out of luck.

Republicans say they are giving Americans choices, but they are taking options away.

|Kate Blakinger, Philadelphia

PGW strives to keep rates low

At Philadelphia Gas Works, we recognize that rate increases are a concern for our customers. That's why we've worked so hard to delay this request for a $70 million rate increase ("Rate hike case not made," Friday).

This decision is not based on one warm winter, but on exhaustive, ongoing research into customer usage, costs, and changing weather trends. The rate relief will ensure that Philadelphians continue to receive the safe and reliable gas service they deserve.

For us, customers come first in decision-making. Before requesting rate relief, we look inward and have made changes that have improved customer service, avoided $73 million in health-care costs, cut borrowing needs by more than $185 million, and eliminated $340 million in long-term debt.

Effective financial management has also led to improved bond ratings, allowing us to increase capital investment while saving $72 million in debt-service payments.

PGW proudly employs nearly 1,650 people - down from almost 3,000 in the 1980s - who work and live in Philadelphia. These men and women earned their positions, and each supports the delivery of vital gas services. PGW crews work 24 hours a day, every day of the year, in every imaginable type of weather, because we work for Philadelphia.

And yes, when winter is colder than anticipated, customers get money back. That's why, in 2014, PGW returned almost $11 million to customers.

|Craig E. White, president and CEO, Philadelphia Gas Works, Philadelphia

Where are the Trump supporters?

You are really scraping the bottom of the barrel when the only letter supporting Trump has to come from Loveland, Colo. ("Don't be fooled by Russia talk," Monday), while every other letter is from our region. Tell you something?

|Ron DeNadai, West Chester