It is a travesty that Congress is even considering “replacing” the Affordable Care Act with a program that will cut off care for as many as 23 million people and eliminate many of its popular and important provisions. And to have Congressman Bruce Poliquin (where are you Bruce?) vote in favor of the bill is totally unacceptable.

Access to primary care providers is the most critical aspect of providing comprehensive health care, including mental health services. Without proper health care coverage, we are harming people and sentencing many to early deaths. The failure to expand MaineCare is estimated to kill 157 people a year in Maine. Imagine the effect of throwing 23 million Americans off health care?

The key to addressing the opioid addiction crisis is not to arrest more addicts and throw them in jail, but to cover more residents with health care. Because Maine did not expand its Medicaid program, access to the services necessary to prevent or treat such addictions, or other mental health issues, is missing for many needy Mainers, including some veterans.

People covered by health insurance are more apt to get preventative care that prevents serious, but avoidable outcomes, and to better treat chronic diseases, such as diabetes. Lack of coverage and, therefore, lack of access to care denies many Mainers better health.

Keep the ACA, expand MaineCare and preserve the tried and true Medicare and Medicaid programs and give more Americans an opportunity to live healthy and productive lives.

Jim Lysen, Lewiston

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