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Things left unsaid by Sen. Sanders at ACA town hall

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The problems of Obamacare can be repaired by adding public option, dropping Medicare-eligible age

On Tuesday, Feb. 7, CNN hosted a town hall on the Affordable Care Act in which Sen. Bernie Sanders debated Sen. Ted Cruz. I applaud Sen. Sanders for his performance, but I think he missed a few opportunites to make a stronger argument. Here are a few things he left unsaid.

Every human needs a few basic things to survive. They need food, water, shelter, clothing, security and health care. Your health is the most important thing you have. It is now an essential of living in the 21st century. You cannot be a responsible citizen, a caring family member or pursue a career if you are unhealthy. I believe health care is a human right. The ACA has provided health care to 20 million Americans and prevented thousands of medical bankruptcies. We must continue the ACA and strengthen it. Repealing it without an equivalent replacement would lead to the deaths of 43,000 Americans per year (David Himmelstein, M.D., and Steffie Woolhandler, M.D.)

We just heard from a Texas businesswoman who, because of the ACA, could not expand her business ... and another woman, because of the ACA, who could not afford to go in for follow-up on an abnormal pap smear. In essense, both women were hurt by the ACA, and Bernie said it was horrible.

The problems of the ACA can be repaired. Three ideas are to add the public option, drop the age of Medicare to 50 or put everyone on Medicare from birth to death. Accepting Medicaid in the 19 Republican states that rejected it would also help.

We just heard the story of a Texas woman who was getting sicker from multiple sclerosis. Because Texas refused to accept the Medicaid expansion offered to Texas as part of the ACA, the woman moved to Maryland, which accepted the expansion. In Maryland, she received the treatment for MS she needed and is now back at work part-time. Texas refused to expand Medicaid, and 18 other Republican states did as well. That means a total of 4.3 million Americans were blocked from Medicaid in these 19 states for the last six years (Americans paid for Medicaid with their federal taxes and are owed that benefit). Medicaid rejection in 19 states has led to a total of over 7,000 unnecessary deaths per year. (See "Opting out of Medicaid Expansion: The Health and Financial Impacts" by Himmelstein and Woolhandler). Those 19 governors, by blocking health care to their consttiuents, have gotten away with murder, in my opinion.

We just heard the story of a young woman who is with child. She wants to know if the Republican replacement for the ACA will cover her prenatal care, delivery and birth control pills. Well, Ted, will it? Yes or no? Ted, I couldn't hear you ... was that a yes or no?

Medical scientists have studied the ACA for six years. Turns out there were no death panels. In fact research by Himmelstein and Woolhandler found that the ACA has prevented 43,000 deaths per year. We must not take away the health care of 20 million Americans and force them to go to the emergency room for their care and force them into medical bankruptcy. That would be a immoral and criminal. Fix it, repair it and strengthen it and move forward to provide health care to the 28 million Americans who are still uninsured.

Thank you, CNN, for having the integrity, public interest and compassion to hold this important discussion.

Robert L. Seward. M.D., is a Forest Grove resident. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..