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Donald Trump is a salesman, and as the president set about trying to sell his idea of health care reform to the American people this week, he turned to a Utahn, Box Elder County Commissioner Stan Summers, to help make his case.

Summers, invited to be on a White House panel with Trump, told the president and the world about the exorbitant costs and hardships his family has endured as a result of, as Summers put it, "the last president's health-care program."

"I don't want to say that name," Summers said of former President Barack Obama.

But the vilification of the Affordable Care Act by Trump & Co. does a disservice to the debate, not to mention the 24 million Americans whose health care hangs in the balance, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Make no mistake, the struggles Summers and his family have endured are real and heartbreaking.

Summers' son Talan was born prematurely 26 years ago and has grappled with an array of ailments for much of his life.

The family runs a Facebook site documenting the ordeals and sacrifices, as well as the family's love during his battle with IGg4 Systemic Sclerosing Disease, which is hardening the internal tissues in his legs, arms and abdomen. He is on oxygen because his lung tissue is hardening. He has been in hospice care and needs regular medical treatments.

It is debilitating, to be sure, and, as a parent, I can only imagine, emotionally and financially devastating.

The White House posted a video of Summers, a burly, bearded manly man, breaking down in tears when talking about his son's condition.

"I'm hoping they get it right, just like I was hoping the last president would get it right," Summers told me this week. "Maybe the government should get out of the health care business and let it take care of the things it should take care of and give [control] back to the states."

There is no question our health system has major problems. But consider how families not too different from the Summerses could be in a much, much worse place, were it not for Obamacare.

Consider, for example, that today Talan is 25 years old. Summers said he has been allowed to stay on the family's insurance because of his disability.

But before Obamacare, millions of young people could not. According to the Utah Department of Health, since the Affordable Care Act became law, the rate of Utahns under age 26 without insurance has been cut by 43 percent.

Summers has worked hard, including driving a school bus, to keep employer-based insurance. Had he not, it's almost certain that Talan would be denied health coverage on the open market, at least as the market existed before the passage of Obamacare, which bans insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Even those employer plans were inconsistent in whether they would cover pre-existing conditions with waiting periods and carve-outs that were eliminated under Obamacare.

Summers acknowledges those changes make sense, and he said that Trump told him Republicans would keep those.

I guess that's OK, if you want to trust the word of a guy whose staffers believe his microwave was spying on him.

Summers has other problems with Obamacare. He blames it for some of the outrageous prices he has had to pay for prescriptions for his son — a cancer drug, for example, that was prescribed "off-label," or a use for which it hadn't been federally approved.

Actually, the Affordable Care Act gave consumers a right to demand a review if drug coverage is denied and an appeals process to challenge that initial review.

What will definitely change under the Republican plan, however, are drastic cuts to Medicare and Medicaid — two of the government-run programs that help to cover Talan's illnesses.

And who is going to get clobbered? Families in rural Utah with children now on Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program — or CHIP — and elderly Utahns.

Families, especially low-income families with children, will see huge cuts, as much as 20 percent, in the insurance subsidies they can receive.

And for older people, the Republican plan both increases the premiums that insurance companies can charge and slashes the subsidies by about half, meaning the out-of-pocket insurance cost for a 60-year-old Utahn could basically triple from about $300 a month to $900.

States that took the logical step to expand Medicaid coverage, of course, will get hammered even harder by the GOP cuts.

All of this points to the real problem Republicans face. They're trying to blow up a program that — despite its flaws — is expanding access to health care and protecting consumers and is supported by the public.

Thanks, Obama. Or as Stan Summers would say: Thanks, last president.

Twitter: @RobertGehrke