Mitt Romney

Repeal of Affordable Care Act lamented in Lynn

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
State Senator Thomas M. McGee attended a meeting hosted by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton at Lynn Community Health Center to hear from constituents who are at risk by President Trump’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

By ADAM SWIFT

LYNNU.S. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) has been one of the most vocal national critics of President Trump’s new administration, making appearances on the cable networks and sparking debate across the country.

On Saturday morning, Moulton brought a local focus to a national issue, taking part in a roundtable on the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, at the Lynn Community Health Center.

“It’s an incredibly important issue in the community and in the country, as the Republicans in Washington intend to repeal the ACA but have nothing to replace it with,” said Moulton.

During the hour-long discussion, Moulton heard from about a dozen community members, Lynn Community Health Center staff, and local businesspeople about how they have benefitted from the Affordable Care Act and their fears if it is repealed.

The Lynn Community Health Center serves 39,000 people annually, according to Lori Abrams Berry, the center’s CEO. Before the ACA passed, 40 percent of those people had no insurance. Today, that number is under 15 percent, Berry said.

That increase in the number of patients who have insurance has a huge impact on the ability to run and fund the health center, Berry said.

State Sen. Thomas M. McGee noted how former Governor Mitt Romney laid the foundation for the ACA in Massachusetts.

“It was embraced by the governor at the time and it was not embraced by the Republicans down in Washington, which was pretty interesting,” said McGee. “They were the ones who came up with the mandate so we were able to pay for it. We were able to insure over 96 percent of the people in the Commonwealth, and our challenge with the ACA under attack is what’s it going to mean for what we’ve been able to do to keep the insurance that we have in Massachusetts.”

With a repeal, McGee said Massachusetts could be in line for losses of billions of dollars in health insurance costs. He said the state could be especially hard hit when it comes to emergency room costs.

“From the legislative perspective, we used to spend hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the patients who didn’t have insurance who went to the emergency room,” McGee said. “All the hospitals were being inundated and we were really struggling with those costs, we were actually subsidizing those costs as a legislature and a Commonwealth into the hospitals that were giving that care. Obamacare has created a great opportunity to bring those costs down, bring people out of the emergency rooms, and find a better way to care for people.”

While the politics of the ACA was never far from everyone’s mind at the roundtable discussion, it was the personal stories that had the greatest emotional impact of the morning.

Deb Debski has been battling a rare autoimmune disease that was destroying her liver and needed a transplant in order to live. While she said she is doing well now, she was in the hospital earlier this week.

“I told my doctor that I had this discussion coming up and that he had to let me out,” Debski said. “I’m very thankful for the Affordable Care Act. I had $17,000 in medications during the past year, and I paid $75.59. These are medications that I need to take twice a day in order to live.”

Debski said she is extremely upset that the ACA could be repealed with nothing to take its place.

“It would be an incredible hardship to decide whether I can eat or take my medicine,” she said.

Moulton said that Democrats in Congress are open to changes in the ACA, and that he is open to changes in the ACA that could improve it.

“But, we can’t just throw it out and not have a replacement,” Moulton said. “That would be disastrous and you clearly heard that from so many people. We want to hear these stories because we care so much about you, we want to be able to say this to our Republican friends in Washington, but I think it is even more powerful when you convey it directly.”

Spotlight on Revere

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Gov. Charlie Baker announces a MassWorks grant of $3.63 million to build 220 apartment units and a 132-unit hotel. Behind him are State Sen. Joseph Boncore on left and Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo.

Revere got its moment under the bright lights on Wednesday when Gov. Baker and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the man who is at least Baker’s equal in wielding political power in the state, came to town.

Baker and DeLeo came to Revere to announce a state MassWorks grant to pay for local infrastructure work. Infrastructure is one of those technical-sounding words and the work the grant will pay for is decidedly mundane: Water and Sewer pipes, sidewalks and traffic signal improvements are typical MassWorks projects.

The money announced by the governor and the speaker represents just the most recent state investment in Revere. When the city moved forward with supporting the giant Eurovest residential and hotel construction proposal under former Mayor Thomas Ambrosino’s administration, the state quickly responded by building a large parking garage on North Shore Road and building a pedestrian bridge to Wonderland Blue Line station.

In the 10 years since the Eurovest mega development was first proposed, Revere Beach has blossomed into a commercial renaissance focal point for a city that counts a pristine, well-tended beachfront as one of its prime assets.

Former governors Mitt Romney and Deval Patrick bought into the notion that development oriented around transit stations like Wonderland makes economic sense. In Revere’s case, private and public visionaries saw how parking lots located between the Blue Line tracks and Ocean Avenue could become residential high-rises and hotels.

These visions are coming to fruition with construction along Ocean Avenue and continued state support in the form of MassWorks spending.

The city has benefited from three governors taking an interest in its fortunes. But it is DeLeo who quietly and consistently has been the city’s benefactor.

His abiding interest in beachfront development has been matched by a commitment to ensure the city has a top-flight school system. Five new schools have been built in Revere since 2006. Thanks to DeLeo, the city can point to modern schools and burgeoning development in its bid to attract new residents.

The bigger question for Revere now that construction is well underway is how will beachfront development send an economic ripple spreading out across the city. Is money spent along the beach for development a revenue source to help improve neighborhoods located around nearby Shirley Avenue?

Is construction along the beach the spark required to ignite development planning for the former Wonderland Greyhound Park site and land around Suffolk Downs race track?

Eurovest planners allowed local imaginations to run wild with visions of beachside development jumping across North Shore Road to give the crumbling dog park a new life as a development complex.

Similar visions emerged for Suffolk Downs only to fade to a glimmer after the city’s bid for a local casino collapsed.

The Baker administration takes a practical approach to spurring development by paying for nuts and bolts work like roads and sewer pipes. This infrastructure spending helps private projects get off the ground and become a success.