Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | JULY 11, 2012 6:30 AM

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Rate decreases are right

As a student at the University of Iowa, education is very important to me. President Obama made college education accessible to hundreds of thousands more students by doubling funding for Pell Grants.

He was able to double Pell grant funding by ending billions of dollars in federal subsidies to banks acting as middlemen in the college-funding process. Because he has taken steps to make college more affordable, working- and middle-class families can now afford college.

This benefits not only me but my friends and family, who may not have had the same opportunity otherwise. I am glad that my younger sister will now be able to attend college without worrying about funding. Congress passed legislation to prevent the doubling of the student-loan rates just the other day.

Loan rates will now remain 3.4 percent for another year, rather than rising to 6.8 percent. This will save me an average of $1,000 on each of my loans, which will allow me to pursue my career with less worry about paying back my student loans.

I hope that young Americans plan to vote in November, because Obama understands how important education is to our country.

Alyssa Gomez
UI senior

What does the health-care law mean for my family? 

After the historic Supreme Court ruling that upheld the new health-care law, Iowans and Americans around the country are asking an important question: What does this decision mean for my family?

The voices asking the question have often been drowned out by arguments and exaggerated rhetoric, but now that the Affordable Care Act has been resoundingly reaffirmed by the court, I hope we can provide Iowa's families with the answers they deserve.

For 20,000 Iowans between the ages of 21 and 26, it means that they have coverage through their parents' health-insurance plans instead of going uninsured.

For 46,000 Iowa seniors, it means savings on prescription drugs. Since the law was enacted, Iowans on Medicare have saved nearly $43 million on prescription drugs that would otherwise have fallen in the "doughnut hole," leaving them on the hook to pay the full cost of those drugs. Moving forward, the health act will continue to narrow the doughnut hole each year until it is completely eliminated by 2020.

For 611,000 Iowans with private health insurance, it has given them access to such preventive services as mammograms, colonoscopies, and checkups with no co-pay. In 2011, 388,676 people on Medicare received free preventive services.

For 1,187,000 Iowans, including 433,000 women and 311,000 children, the health act has restricted insurance plans from imposing lifetime limits on coverage, meaning that those suffering from cancer and other chronic diseases do not have to worry about going without treatment because of arbitrary insurance-company limits. By 2014, lifetime limits on coverage will be banned completely.

For 290 Iowans with pre-existing health conditions, the act has given them access to coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan.

These benefits are only the beginning of the improvements that the Affordable Care Act includes. As we continue to implement the law, consumers will become more empowered to make decisions about their health care, and insurance companies will no longer be in the driver's seat. It will free families from worry that they could be one illness or accident away from financial catastrophe.

Sen. Tom Harkin

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