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Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:

State Attorney General Mark Brnovich has signed on to a lawsuit that may dismantle the Affordable Care Act and do away with preexisting condition protections. Now he is working with legislators for protections should the lawsuit pass. What is the safety net, how much will it cost and who will it serve? These are very important questions that need clear answers.

As a candidate for the state House in District 8, I have experience few legislators have. I practiced emergency and primary care medicine as a physician assistant in rural farming communities for 30 years. From the corn fields of the Midwest to the California central coast and valley, I saw firsthand how my patients struggled to access and afford the care they needed.

There is no such thing as a “preexisting condition.” There is just a “health history.” Very few of us are so lucky never to have needed medical care and should never be penalized if we did. I had hepatitis C, which is thankfully now cured. It caused me to develop celiac disease. I am now on Medicare and have good health care. But I spent many years working as a PA without health care due to my “preexisting condition.” I had less access to care than some of my patients and had to pay cash for any of it.

We need to expand Medicaid in Arizona. We need to expand access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment in rural communities in Arizona. No one should die because they can’t afford care and treatment. Taking away the ACA will cause deaths. Junk policies will cause deaths. The only way to cover all people with “preexisting conditions” is to give good coverage to everyone regardless of their “health history.”

Sharon Girard