IMPACT OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT REPEAL
Submitted by Bonnie Williamson
After the Republican Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) sixty, yes 60 times, it seems with continued control of the Senate and now the White House this is much closer to becoming reality. Since the election, the Senate has voted to:
- End coverage for preexisting conditions, veterans’ benefits, and aid to rural hospitals;
- Remove discrimination protection for women in healthcare;
- End the provision allowing children to remain on their parent’s insurance till the age of 26;
- Cut off funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
- End the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage and maternity care provision; and
- Direct committees to send budget legislation to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act.
On January 17th, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analyzed H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015, which would repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – eliminating, in two steps, the law’s mandate penalties and subsidies but leaving the ACA’s insurance market reforms in place. In brief, the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that enacting that legislation would affect insurance coverage and premiums primarily in these ways:
A) The number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill. This would be magnified later after the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid eligibility and of subsidies for insurance purchased through the ACA marketplaces. That 18 million number would increase to 27 million, and then to 32 million in 2026.
B) Premiums in the non-group market (for individual policies purchased through the marketplaces or directly from insurers) would increase by 20 to 25 percent—relative to projections under current law – in the first new plan year following enactment. Just like the increase in numbers losing coverage, the increase could reach about 50 percent in the year following the elimination of the Medicaid expansion and the marketplace subsidies, and premiums could double by 2026.
C) According to the Congressional Budget Office and Joint Committee on Taxation’s analysis, premiums in the non-group market would be roughly 20 percent to 25 percent higher than under current law once insurers incorporated the effects of H.R. 3762’s changes into their premium pricing in the first new plan year after enactment. The majority of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Doing so would both reduce the number of people purchasing health insurance and change the mix of people with insurance—tending to cause smaller reductions in coverage among older and less healthy people with high health care costs and larger reductions among younger and healthier people with low health care costs, which is the exact opposite is what is needed to lower the cost of health insurance!
D) CBO and JCT’s calculations, the factors exerting upward pressure on premiums and downward pressure on enrollment in the non-group market would lead to substantially reduced participation by insurers and enrollees in many areas. In total, as a result of reduced enrollment, higher average health care costs among remaining enrollees, and lower participation by insurers, CBO and JCT project that premiums in the non-group market would be about 50 percent higher in the first year after the marketplace subsidies were eliminated – relative to projections under current law – and would about double by 2026.
In short, the number of uninsured Americans would rise dramatically, the cost of health insurance would rise dramatically, the human toll in misery and death would rise dramatically and the costs to the U.S. treasury would rise dramatically.
Quite simply, this is a recipe for disaster.
So what can you, as an individual concerned citizen, do about this? Well, there is always power in numbers, so wherever you can band together friends of a like mind to act together, by all means do so and then get to work:
1) Contact your members of Congress
GA – Senator Johnny Isakson (R) (202) 224-3643
GA – Senator David Perdue (R) (202) 224-3521
GA – Representative David Scott (D) 202-225-2939
2) Locate and visit their local office;
3) Attend Town Hall meetings;
4) Participate in Office Sit-ins;
5) Plan and participate in organized calls;
6) When you speak have clear issues and demands;
7) Establish a connection with the local press and write letters to the editor;
8) Tell your story and the impact, where appropriate; on social media.
Keep in mind that your member of Congress wants to get re-elected and likes good press. They don’t want to be in the news in a negative light and this can offer very powerful leverage to change their position.