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 As a family physician I applaud the leadership of the North Dakota medical and hospital associations, who point out the harmful effects the proposed Republican health care legislation would have on people and health systems in North Dakota. These organizations join the Catholic Health Association, American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and many others in opposing this legislation, because it reverses important advances in health care.

In my practice I saw firsthand the challenges families without health insurance face, and how much better their situation was when, after passage of the Affordable Care Act, they were able to get insurance coverage. This is not just a matter of convenience or dollars. Studies show that people without health insurance have about a 25 percent higher death rate than their fellow Americans with insurance, even when allowing for differences in income and lifestyle.

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Also, several states that expanded insurance coverage in the decade before the ACA quickly saw significant reductions in mortality. The evidence is clear: not having health insurance is associated with higher death rates, and getting coverage lowers mortality. With the ACA about 20 million more Americans have health insurance. In contrast the Senate Republican bill will lead to about 22 million losing coverage, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The bill passed by the House with North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer’s support is even worse. These bills will cost lives. And millions more will retain insurance but with greater financial burden due to substantially reduced premium support in the Republican bills.

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

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