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Letter: As a doctor, I've seen the benefits of the Affordable Care Act

As a family physician I applaud the leadership of the North Dakota Medical and Hospital Associations, who in a recent letter to the editor pointed out the harmful effects the proposed Republican health care legislation would have on the people and health systems of North Dakota.

These organizations join the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Catholic Health Association and many other health care organizations in opposing this legislation, which will reverse important advances in health care brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

Every day in my practice I have seen firsthand the challenges faced by families without health insurance, and have also seen how much better their situation was when, after passage of the ACA, they were able to get insurance coverage.

This is not just a matter of convenience or dollars. Studies have shown that people without health insurance in our country have about a 25 percent higher death rate than their fellow citizens with insurance, even when allowing for differences in income and lifestyle.

Also, several states expanded Medicaid coverage in the decade before the ACA, and those who received coverage experienced a 6 percent reduction in mortality over the next five years. The evidence is clear: not having health insurance in our country is associated with higher death rate, and getting coverage lowers mortality. We should keep this impact on health in mind when we see that with the ACA about 20 million more Americans have health insurance, while in contrast the Senate Republican bill will lead to 22 million or so losing coverage, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill passed by the House with the vote of North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer is even worse.

These bills will cost lives. And millions more will retain insurance with greater financial burden due to the reduced premium support in the Republican bills.

Sen. Hoeven, the choice is yours. Will you vote for the health of the people of North Dakota against any legislation that increases the number of uninsured and worsens the real-life financial challenges people face with health care?

Christianson lives in Grand Forks.

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