Health care is one of the most personal and consequential issues that Congress tackles, as it touches every single family in our county. In the heated debate about the best way to improve our health care system, some in Washington have lost sight of the human consequences of the actions we take here. That’s why it’s so important for lawmakers to hear from the people they represent about the impacts of Congress’ actions.

Chris Van Hollen

I’ve heard from thousands of concerned constituents in Baltimore and across the state. Shehla, a single mother of three children, wrote to us about how she relies on Medicaid to help her disabled son as she works hard to keep a roof over their heads. Jamal, a small business owner, shared that his wife would have died without the insurance she received through the Affordable Care Act at our recent health care forum hosted in coordination with the Collective Empowerment Group and local churches. Mary, who is recently retired, wrote to us saying that despite saving for her retirement, she might not be able to access a nursing home for her and her husband.

The plan being rushed through the Senate would have catastrophic consequences. The proposal would strip health care away from tens of millions of people in Maryland and across the country and gives tax breaks to the very wealthy and special interests.

There are ways we can and should improve our health insurance system, chief among them is increasing choice and affordability on the Affordable Care Act exchanges. I’ve also joined my Democratic colleagues in the Senate to introduce legislation to bring stability to the health insurance marketplace. But the Republican bill — written in secret without a single public hearing — doesn’t even come close to making care more accessible or affordable. In fact, it would decimate the insurance market and leave millions more Americans without insurance.

I stand ready to discuss ideas to improve our health care system — as long as the common goal is to increase access and affordability of care for Marylanders. But the plan that Senate Republicans put forward fails that basic test. I urge my colleagues to go home and listen to their constituents – the children, working families, and seniors who would be devastated if the Republican plan became law.

More people need to see the human impact of the Senate Republican health care plan, which would dismantle much of our existing health care system without offering a viable alternative.  I stand with Shehla, Jamal, Mary, and every Marylander who wants to improve our health care system — not destroy it.

Chris Van Hollen is a U.S. Senator representing the state of Maryland.