GOP health-care plan will steal benefits from the needy | Readers respond

Congress Heath Overhaul
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks on to the Senate floor on Thursday following a meeting with Senate Republicans on a health reform bill.

Stealing benefits from the neediest

As a family nurse practitioner who also teaches health-care delivery, I take issue with the claim by Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) that the Republican's Senate health-care bill will not affect "the vast majority of Pennsylvania families who receive their coverage through an employer, Medicare, or the Children's Health Insurance Program" ("Toomey: Keeping our promise," Sunday).

The Senate plan would cruelly let any state cut essential health benefits, the most fair and basic set of benefits a health insurance plan can cover, such as office and hospital visits, maternity coverage, mental-health services, and prescription drugs, among others. Let's not forget the baffling provision of the Senate bill that would allow large corporations to snatch health insurance from employees.

Toomey would do well to present this bill for what it is: a plan to steal health-insurance benefits from vulnerable and hard-working Americans to give tax breaks to corporations, insurance companies, and the rich.

|Tarik S. Khan, Philadelphia

Toomey ignoring the poor

Sen. Pat Toomey wants Republicans "to fulfill our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare with a system that puts families in charge of their health care decisions." When he says this, he's making low-income people invisible.

So did White House counselor Kellyanne Conway when she suggested that able-bodied Medicaid recipients should get a job, and "then they'll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do."

Conway and Toomey forget that 59 percent of Medicaid recipients - parents and childless adults, the group targeted by the Medicaid expansion - are working, but they need Medicaid because their jobs don't offer health insurance. According to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 70.6 percent of small employers did not offer health insurance in 2015, and 16.2 percent of all workers had jobs without coverage. Those percentages will greatly increase if the Republicans have their way.

Toomey seems to have forgotten the people he employed when he operated a small restaurant chain in the Lehigh Valley. If he was thinking about them, he wouldn't be suggesting that the GOP plan puts people like them "in charge" in any way.

|Helene Pollock, Philadelphia, pollockhelene@yahoo.com

Medicaid saves lives

As a pediatrician who provides care to many children in South Jersey, I know firsthand the lifesaving benefits of Medicaid to children with disabilities. The proposed per capita cap-shifting cost to the states will have a devastating effect on these children and their families.

Medicaid is called an entitlement program, and these children are entitled to services and care. The impact will be particularly catastrophic in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, which spend a higher proportion of Medicaid funding on the disabled. Children with disabilities receive Medicaid funding to pay for equipment, therapies, medications, and skilled nursing, enabling them to remain at home in the care of loving families. Without these services, their lives are at risk.

We have come a long way in the last 50 years. I know this personally, as my intellectually disabled brother lived and ultimately died in institutional care at a time when there were limited options. As a country, we can and must do better. It is our moral obligation.

|Debra Weissbach, M.D., Moorestown, deb.weiss.17@gmail.com

I was a social worker with low-income senior citizens for nearly 30 years, providing services to keep them in their homes. When this was no longer possible, nursing home care was the only alternative. And Medicaid was - and is - the only way for low-income people to pay for it. No one wants to live in an institution, but many people have no choice. What will they do when the Republican repeal of Obamacare takes away the Medicaid option?

|June Siegel, Elkins Park

Adopt something, then fix it

President Trump is being slow-tortured to craft a complicated health-care law that will handle every situation, and it is impossible.

After President Barack Obama got his health-care law through Congress, more than 70 changes were made. Waivers were granted (without criteria) immediately. Over time, Obama made changes by executive order and through the legislative process. People have forgotten this.

The Republicans should adopt something quickly that will work in a reasonable way, and then, since they cannot think of everything, make necessary changes along the way. This is what will be necessary, because it is so complicated. History has proven this.

|David F. Lipton, Toms River

Would the GOP members of the House and Senate give up their health-care plan for the one they are offering the American people?

|Richard Cohen, Plymouth Meeting

Cartoon fuels spirit of hate

Nothing like the Inquirer Opinion page to fan the flames of the current atmosphere of political violence. Monday's editorial cartoon by Mike Lukovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution depicting a doctor, identified as the "GOP," about to plunge a huge knife labeled "Trumpcare" down the throat of an unknowing Uncle Sam is abhorrent. The jihad-like atmosphere will only increase with disgusting expressions such as these.

|Patrick McCool, Erdenheim