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Voices / Letters from readers

Chronically ill and completely abandoned by the Senate

I went to bed on Dec. 1 dreading that I would wake up to world in which the Republican party had completely abandoned the people of this country.

I woke up on Dec. 2 to discover that, sure enough, the Senate had passed a tax “reform” bill that would strip millions of health insurance, raise taxes on the middle and lower classes in the long term, and reward only the wealthiest Americans.

My fears, it seems, were entirely justified.

My children and I currently rely on federally-funded health care and assistance programs to make ends meet. I’m getting back on my feet after a year-long health crisis, and these programs are making that possible.

Those same programs (Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) will be at risk in the coming years because the tax bill that just passed the Senate will raise the deficit by an estimated $1.5 trillion.

The Republicans will no doubt push for spending cuts, and their first targets will be assistance programs like the ones that are helping me and my family.

More immediately troubling, the tax bill passed by the Senate includes a repeal of the individual mandate — the backbone of the Affordable Care Act. This mandate requires everyone in the country to have insurance, which is what makes it possible for insurance companies to offer any affordable plans at all.

Repealing the mandate will cause a spike in premiums that will destabilize insurance markets and leave an estimated 13 million people without access to affordable plans.

My medical expenses routinely soar over $100,000 a year — insurance is necessity. The Affordable Care Act allowed me to leave a full-time position to pursue self-employment and have more flexibility to deal with health issues and care for my family. If this tax bill passes, my health is very much at risk.

This tax bill is yet another effort by the Republicans to reward the rich with tax breaks paid for by the poor. We have called, rallied, and written to Congress, telling our representatives that we don’t want this bill.

We must not let up — we must be louder.

Allyson Wendt

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Originally published in The Commons issue #437 (Wednesday, December 6, 2017). This story appeared on page D1.

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