Ratcliff: support the ACA and make healthcare more affordable

Newly appointed Sen. Jon Kyl has embraced the possibility of repealing the Affordable Care Act, as have Rep. Martha McSally, Rep. David Schweikert and other Republican members of the Arizona delegation.

James Ratcliff

As CEO of a small oral care products business in Scottsdale, I believe our elected officials need to do better. The business I lead has a dozen employees, and we competed for 26 years with Colgate, Proctor and Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson, not only for customers but also for workers.

Healthcare benefits are one of the ways we attract qualified employees, and as a company dedicated to helping people get well and stay well, we offer employees health and dental coverage. Scrapping the plans and options our employees and their families enjoy won’t help them — or our business.

Prior to the ACA, a third of our employees experienced delays and denials in insurance payments due to pre-existing conditions, but the ACA eliminated those rejections. Before the ACA we had only one affordable insurance carrier option; after its passage, three firms offered plans that were affordable and competitive.

Under the ACA, our firm has not experienced a substantial increase in insurance premium costs, contrary to what is often reported as an effect of the ACA.

The ACA has been effective at insuring millions of additional people and protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Simply eliminating the ACA is not a positive move; we must build on the accomplishments of the ACA to enhance the ways healthcare can be made affordable as well as accessible.

The average per person cost of healthcare in the United States – regardless of whether the individual, the employer or the government pays – is about $8,500, or more than 20 percent of average gross income. That is twice the per person cost in other developed countries, and American citizens use healthcare significantly less.

We can do better.

The current cost of healthcare — to the individual, to the employer or the government — is simply unsustainable. The ACA provides incentives for private providers to move away from inefficient and ineffective pay-for-services models to models based on outcomes. We do not need to abandon the progress made; America can join the rest of the developed world in setting goals for improving affordability.

Focusing on healthcare creates jobs.

Healthcare is the fastest growing sector of the Arizona economy. We need more doctors, nurses, dentists, physicians’ assistants, and medical technicians. The need is there because people have access to healthcare. Reducing the number of people eligible for coverage by repealing the ACA is a job killer. It misunderstands the affordability challenges. Having healthcare only available to those who can afford it does not lower costs.

Healthcare is not only a personal good; it also benefits the employer and our community. Let’s look at the ACA as a first step toward affordable healthcare for all Americans rather than the last.

Our Arizona congressional delegation would serve us well by working to making healthcare more affordable as well as more accessible. Trying to reduce federal spending on healthcare does not make healthcare more affordable; it just shifts the burden, often to those individuals who cannot afford it. Trying to reduce federal spending on healthcare does not make it more accessible.

The regrettable federal actions to date will reduce Arizonans’ access to healthcare. Insuring more people benefits both employees and the economy at large, especially in Arizona where health care employs many people.

I believe Congress should protect and expand upon the accomplishments of the ACA, and stop looking for ways to repeal it.

Editor’s note: Mr. Ratcliff is the chairman, president and CEO of Rowpar Pharmaceuticals, which is based in Scottsdale

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