, Salem, MA


April 7, 2014

Letter: District needs Tierney

To the editor:

Richard Tisei, a proposed Republican candidate for Congress, boycotted the recent state Republican convention over the issue of gay marriage, saying that “the party is taking us in a direction backward rather than forward.”

Mr. Tisei is probably particularly sensitive to this issue because he is gay and was recently married. But I wonder: Hasn’t he noticed that the Republican Party is driving us backward in other respects also? America now has passed the Affordable Care Act, which will allow millions of Americans for the first time to get health insurance they can afford, and it will ensure that major health care decisions can be made by doctors and their patients rather than by insurance companies who can deny coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” and refuse to pay for needed procedures for any of a host of reasons. Yes, the ACA has had some problems, which should be reparable, but rather than helping fix the problems the Republicans nationally are making a big project to try to repeal the act altogether, sending us back to the bad old days when so many Americans had no health insurance or were at the mercy of the insurance companies. Do Republicans think that the administrative problems with the ACA are more urgent than the problems of people with life-threatening conditions who can’t afford necessary treatment?

Social Security has been in place for 80 years; Medicare and Medicaid for about 50 years. These programs have become a basic part of life planning for most of us. Yet, they are under attack by Republicans nationally who often refer to them derisively as “entitlements.” They have regularly reduced funding for Social Security Administration and they have advocated gradual reduction of benefits by changing the formula for inflationary adjustments. They have also forced reductions of funding for Medicare and Medicaid, and Congressional Republicans have now twice passed the Ryan budget proposal to turn Medicare into a program of vouchers to buy private insurance so that the person would then be obliged to argue with the insurance company over coverage for a needed medical procedure, thus extending the worst aspect of private health insurance to senior citizens.

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