Letters: How out of touch is Congress?

What part of living from paycheck to paycheck and not being able to afford health insurance does Congress not understand?

I’m a low-income worker who has worked hard all my life. I have never qualified for Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, except a few short months while unemployed. And wasn’t that nice. I was able to get tests done and everything.

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Now, finally I am able, with the help of the monthly government subsidy, to pay $240 a month for health insurance so I am covered if something catastrophic should ever happen. I can have annual checkups and go to the doctor when I need to. That last part is important. I feel that someone who has worked full-time their whole life should be able to afford to go to the doctor when they have a health issue, not just they need their catastrophic coverage.

The insurance I buy for $240 a month — no small potatoes when your gross income is $2,000— would cost me closer to $600 without the subsidy. 

And President Trump and Congress think that giving me a tax credit at the end of the year will make it possible for me to buy this insurance? What planet do they live on? Just how out of touch can they possibly be? Do they not read news reports about how few people can even afford to have any savings?

The money isn’t there to pay for it and get reimbursed at the end of the year. Their plan means no health insurance, or perhaps catastrophic only, for me — a hard-working, low-wage earner.

It must be nice to live in a fantasy universe where you think that everyone who works hard has enough money to live appropriately. Let’s not have people in Congress who live in fantasy worlds.

Lakeport, Calif.


On marijuana and opioids, science has proven Sessions wrong

From Julie Netherland, director, Office of Academic Engagement, Drug Policy Alliance

In recent comments about marijuana legalization (Sessions: ‘We don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,’ Feb. 28), Attorney General Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsAsset forfeiture becomes a federal power grab Sally Yates: Justice system 'may be broken beyond recognition' under Trump Peggy Noonan: ‘Weak and sniveling’ Trump is not as strong as his wife MORE, after rejecting the idea that marijuana could help with the country’s opioid problem, commented, “maybe science will prove me wrong.” In fact, science has already proven Sessions quite wrong. Research has shown that, used in combination with opioid pain medication, marijuana can lower opioid cravings, side effects, and withdrawal symptoms and enhances the analgesic effects of opioids, meaning people can use lower, and safer, doses.

In a Canadian study released last month, 63 percent of medical marijuana patients surveyed reported using marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs, particularly pharmaceutical opioids. Another study found that, in states with medical marijuana programs, opioid overdose deaths are lower by a whopping 25 percent. 

Yet another study found that states with medical marijuana programs report fewer prescriptions for conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety and depression. The authors estimate that medical marijuana saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013 alone. 

Perhaps more upsetting than the fact that Sessions is wrong about marijuana and opioids is his ignorance about a growing body of evidence regarding one of the nation’s most pressing public health problems.

Too many lives are at stake to be cavalier about the evidence-base for our nation’s drug policies. Don’t make science prove you wrong, Mr. Sessions. Use science to do the right thing and save lives.

New York