What will happen if Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act? Millions of Pennsylvanians will lose their health care coverage. Millions more, including those on employer-based plans, will lose benefits and improved coverage.
According to a recent poll released by Kaiser Foundation, 75% of Americans DO NOT want Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act at all–or until we have a better proposal. Not surprising…over 20 million Americans have benefited from the ACA.
Yet the Republicans, who have voted to repeal the ACA over 60 times in the last four years are determined to dismantle the landmark legislation that gave hope to so many who longed for access to affordable healthcare.
The ACA has had tremendous impact here in Pennsylvania. Most of us know someone who has benefited. Nearly 500,000 Pennsylvanians gained comprehensive coverage that doesn’t discriminate or require higher premiums based on sex, age or pre-existing conditions.
The ACA has also improved health care services for the 2.9 million Pennsylvanians covered through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); and has allowed the state to expand these programs to an additional 261,000 people.
Over 5 million Pennsylvanians suffer from pre-existing conditions. Before the ACA, it was impossible or prohibitively expensive for individuals with prior conditions to acquire healthcare. Now, health care companies cannot deny coverage or charge more based on diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, depression, or any other physical or mental health issue.
An estimated 90,000 young Pennsylvania residents have benefited from the ACA provision that allows them to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26.
Before the ACA, over 4.5 million Pennsylvanians had healthcare coverage (acquired through their employer or as an individual) that was subject to annual or lifetime limits. These caps, often hidden in fine print, would cut off coverage after reaching a maximum payout amount in a given year or over the life of the policy. As a result, people were losing their healthcare while undergoing cancer treatments or hospital stays after a catastrophic accident. Then, because pre-existing conditions precluded them entirely or made coverage financially unfeasible, severely ill individuals would find it impossible to acquire additional coverage.
It’s true premiums have continued to rise but at a slower rate than what was occurring prior to the ACA. This is remarkable considering that the ACA:
• ended annual and lifetime limits;
• provides free preventative care;
• allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan;
• improved mental health coverage;
• ended discrimination based on pre-existing conditions; and
• required more comprehensive care, including emergency room services.
The ACA limits how much insurance companies can spend on overhead; therefore, they re-invest more money in paying healthcare claims that benefit their customers.
Think about it: before the ACA, health care premiums were rising exponentially despite the fact that so many had limited coverage or were excluded altogether. These higher premiums did not result in better healthcare services, just higher profits for the corporations.
The ACA strengthened coverage for many who were already insured but it’s not perfect; there were those who did not fair as well. Some people could no longer stay on their preferred plan (because it didn’t quality per the minimum ACA requirements) some who lost superb healthcare because the ACA penalized employers for providing what’s called “Cadillac” policies.
Republicans should look at opportunities to improve and extend the Affordable Care Act; they should not dismantle it, leaving tens of millions adrift without coverage. If Republican legislators want change, then they need to propose a better plan for the American people.
Even the American Medical Association, the largest association of physicians in the US, warned Congress this week to not rush to repeal but instead provide a detailed plan for ACA’s replacement and let Americans decide whether it is a step in the right direction.
Join us on January 15 in front of Congressman Lou Barletta’s Sunbury office at noon to stand up for affordable health care. If you can’t come out, call Congressman Barletta (570.988.7801) and tell him to maintain and improve the ACA.
We cannot go back to denied coverage, lifetime limits and health insurance driven solely by profit motives.
The ACA must not be repealed. Too many Pennsylvanians have too much to lose.