Ten years ago today, then-President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. It was called landmark legislation, the most significant health coverage overhaul since Medicare and Medicaid were launched in 1965. But, at this point, it might even be called miracle legislation, after more than 70 attempts to repeal the law failed. One of those attempts came within one vote of dismantling the historic law. Now, Republicans are taking their fight to end the ACA to the U.S. Supreme Court in the fall.
The question is why on earth would anyone want to end the ACA? After all, 20 million people gained health care coverage under the ACA. Eliminating it, especially without any replacement on the table, would be heartless.
While the ACA is not perfect, the pros far outweigh the cons.
- The law has provided protection for more than 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
- The Medicaid expansion provision allowed 17 million Americans to gain coverage.
- Lifetime maximum benefits were eliminated in health plan policies. At the time the ACA was signed into law, 91 million Americans had employer-sponsored plans that imposed lifetime limits.
- More than two million young adults were allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
If the Supreme Court throws out the law, we lose all of these benefits and even more. Nearly 12 million seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare ‘donut hole’ will reopen. Nine million people will lose the subsidy they receive to help them pay for their insurance coverage. Insurance companies will be able to charge women more just for being a woman, with estimates that it could be 50 percent more. Support for rural hospitals will end.
The Urban Institute says without the ACA, the number of uninsured will increase by 65 percent, or nearly 19.9 million, nearly four million in California. Demands for uncompensated care – the care received by the uninsured in emergency rooms or community clinics – will jump by $50.2 billion, an increase of 82 percent compared to what is being paid out with the ACA in place.
A Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans do support the Affordable Care Act, also found some perceived challenges. Yes, the ACA is not perfect, but it is far superior to what we had before, and making improvements to the law would be far preferable to any alternative that has been proposed.
Americans say health care is a top priority in this election year, and the current coronavirus outbreak has likely strengthened that point of view. As such, everyone should take a hard look at what the candidates are proposing. The Affordable Care Act was indeed landmark legislation – a major breakthrough in health care. It would be a shame to tear it apart.
About L.A. Care Health Plan
L.A. Care Health Plan serves more than 2.1 million members in Los Angeles County, making it the largest publicly-operated health plan in the country. L.A. Care offers four health coverage plans including Medi-Cal, L.A. Care Covered™, L.A. Care Cal MediConnect Plan and the PASC-SEIU Homecare Workers Health Care Plan, all dedicated to being accountable and responsive to members. As a public entity, L.A. Care’s mission is to provide access to quality health care for L.A. County's low-income communities, and to support the safety net required to achieve that purpose. L.A. Care prioritizes quality, access and inclusion, elevating health care for all of L.A. County. For more information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.