The Many Benefits of the Affordable Care Act & Republican Sabotage
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is very popular because of all its benefits:
It forced all health insurance providers to cover:
- Prescription medicines
- Doctor’s services outside the hospital
- Emergency room visits
- Preventive care and wellness services
- Mental health care
- Addiction treatment
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation services and equipment
- Laboratory tests
- Disability care
- Pregnancy, maternity, breastfeeding, and newborn care before and after birth
- Pediatric care, including dental and vision care for children
- Birth control
The law also had other important benefits:
- It gave 20 million more Americans health care.
- It forced insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions at the same premium and co-pay rates as other people.
- It stopped insurance companies from cutting people off when they get sick.
- It eliminated annual and lifetime coverage limits, so insurance companies couldn’t force you to pay when your insurance became too expensive.
- It set limits on out of pocket spending.
- It let parents keep their children on health insurance until the age of 26.
- It forced insurance companies to spend at least 85% of your premiums on health care, to limit excessive spending on executive bonuses and overhead.
- It required background checks on nursing home employees to help prevent elder abuse.
- It provided subsidies to help poor people and those in the middle class earning up to $100,000 a year for a family of 4 to help them afford health insurance.
The ACA also gave states 90% of the cost to expand Medicaid health insurance to all the working poor—everyone making at or below 138% of the poverty level, about $17,000 for a family of two.
But the Supreme Court ruled against this part of the law and let states reject Medicaid expansion.
Even with 19 states refusing Medicaid expansion, the ACA brought the percentage of Americans without health insurance down to 9% for the first time ever.
Republican Sabotage of the ACA
Unfortunately, 19 Republican governors actually let people in their states die and lost $1 billion just to weaken the ACA and fight Democrats.
- These 19 governors refused tens of millions of dollars in federal money to expand Medicaid.
- For example, just Texas alone rejected $9.58 million by not participating.
- Refusing federal money for Medicaid expansion cost these 19 states an extra $1 billion for treating uninsured people in hospitals.
- Refusing Medicaid expansion also resulted in about 19,000 total more deaths each year in those states.
- So people in these Republican states died even while their tax money supported the benefits of the Affordable Care Act their governors denied them.
Over time, more states expanded Medicaid, so now only 14 states still refuse to provide health care to their working poor.
Since the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) passed, Republicans have tried to eliminate it over 70 times.
When Trump and the Republicans did make their own health care proposals or federal budgets, they tried to make massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
They tried to cut Medicaid to the poor and disabled so much that:
- it would have killed tens of thousands of Americans
- Christian groups all across the US denounced them
So Republicans just passed laws to sabotage the ACA.
- They eliminated the requirement to buy insurance, which would have greatly strengthened the program with younger, healthier customers and lowered premiums for everybody.
- They eliminated $12 billion in subsidies to help insurance companies cover poor and middle class people. This forced many companies out of the market.
- They cut the enrollment period in half and cut 90% of the money for advertising and outreach and 77% of the money for enrollment assistance.
As a result, under Trump and the Republicans, over 7 million adult Americans and 425,000 children lost their health insurance.
Studies estimate 52 million people, 27% of all Americans, have pre-existing conditions.
Trump and the Republicans let health insurance companies charge more to people with pre-existing conditions.
They also made it legal to sell cheap, junk insurance policies with high deductibles that leave people stranded if they get any serious condition.
- Most of the junk policies don’t even cover prescription drugs, prevention, or mental health care.
- These policies can exclude coverage for cancer, HIV, pregnancy, alcohol and drug abuse, heart failure, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, paralysis, etc.
- Even covered care may have ridiculously low maximum coverage.
- People who buy the junk policies because of their low prices are in for a rude shock when they find out later how little their insurance covers.
- They often don’t cover conditions like cancer or heart disease even if you didn’t know you had them when you bought the coverage.
- Some of these plans drop you as soon as you get an expensive diagnosis.
- People with these junk plans often face bankruptcy if they end up with a serious illness.
Because of this, an estimated 44 million are underinsured, with high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs.
In December, 2019, Republicans continued to weaken funding for the ACA by eliminating its taxes on medical devices, expensive healthcare plans, and health insurance companies.
Trump and his Justice Department also have a lawsuit at the Supreme Court trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. If it succeeds:
- all the benefits of the ACA listed above will vanish
- 20 million Americans would lose their health care
- 133 million Americans with preexisting conditions would have a very difficult time finding or paying for health insurance
The vast majority of Americans, both Democratic and Republican, don’t want to lose the important benefits of the ACA.
And most national and state health care, hospital, medical, and insurance associations oppose Trump’s lawsuit trying to destroy the ACA.
Now Trump fears voter outrage if the Supreme Court rules in his favor and people lose all the benefits of the ACA, especially the health coverage for those with preexisting conditions and the subsidies that help millions more afford health insurance.
So the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court not to decide on eliminating the ACA until after the 2020 election and it agreed.
And knowing how extremely popular coverage for preexisting conditions is, Trump has lied over 70 times,trying to take credit by claiming that he is protecting this coverage.
Trump even says he is protecting coverage for preexisting conditions and that Democrats are not.
That’s insane because Republicans have consistently tried to destroy the ACA and Democrats have always supported it.
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