Letter: Replacement plan dangerous, immoral

Published 9:36 am Monday, March 20, 2017

I am Aaron Winter, a licensed alcohol and drug counselor from Albert Lea. A number of patients I care for have access to health care that was provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. They have access to expensive and lifesaving medications such as Buprenorphine and other anti-craving medications they would not have had access to prior to the ACA due to being uninsured.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of over 33,000 Americans in 2015.

If the Affordable Care Act is repealed and replaced by the new proposal recently disclosed by Republican lawmakers, an estimated 1.3 million people with serious mental illness and 2.8 million people with substance use disorders, including 220,000 people with opioid use disorders, could lose health coverage under the Affordable Care Act repeal. This could certainly lead to increased overdose deaths related to opioid use. These deaths could be prevented by the use of opioid replacement therapy. According to the CDC, opioid overdose deaths increased to 9 percent in 2014. If 220,000 Americans with a diagnosed opioid use disorder lose their coverage, it is possible that an additional 19,800 Americans will lose their lives to the disease of addiction.

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Investing in health care for our citizens that includes multidisciplinary treatment will give these patients access to lifesaving medications and addictions professionals who are equipped to work with the complexities of addiction.

Addiction is not a moral defect. It is a disease of the brain.

I cannot, in good conscious, support the repeal and replacement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The current Republican replacement plan is dangerous, regressive, cruel and immoral.

Aaron Winter

Albert Lea