Since its institution in 2010, the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” has been under fire from many including much of the Republican Party. One of the platforms that Donald Trump ran on was the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. But, so far, the process of repealing, and the plans that are meant to replace it, have met even more disaster. And many are worried about the effects that these plans may have on individuals as well as the nation.
A couple weeks ago, reports Reuters, the Senate failed to remove the healthcare laws in a surprising tiebreaker from John McCain, the 80-year-old Republican senator. McCain said that this is “an opportunity to start fresh.” And that “I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to trust each other, stop the political gamesmanship and put the healthcare needs of the American people first.”
Those working to repeal Obamacare wouldn’t just hurt the millions of people that have secured health insurance. They would also be making major cuts to Medicaid. An article in the Huffington Post states, “Republicans eager to justify the severe Medicaid cuts in their Obamacare repeal proposals have offered up a number of arguments. They say Medicaid doesn’t contribute to better health, or that it doesn’t offer value to its beneficiaries. They also say the proposed cuts would affect only able-bodied adults, sparing groups like low-income children that Medicaid has traditionally served.
Those claims don’t hold up well to scrutiny. Relative to people with no health coverage, Medicaid recipients end up more financially secure and have better access to care, according to a body of research that stretches back decades. And while the evidence of Medicaid’s health effects is more ambiguous, most well-respected experts believe it helps and, in the aggregate, may even save thousands of lives a year.”
Without the access to health insurance or to Medicaid, many families, especially lower income families, are more likely to get sick or even die. Not only do these programs help the health of these communities, but they also expand the capabilities of clinics and hospitals allowing them to provide more services and hire more staffing. If these programs are repealed and cut back, then whole communities could suffer.
Effect on Premiums
With millions of Americans unable to get affordable health coverage, people are asking what this would do to premiums. Would these force premiums to go up or down? Would it make all health coverage unaffordable? A recent blog on healthaffairs.com looks into this scenario.
“The Congressional Budget Office report on the ORRA concludes that the coverage repeals would reduce the budget deficit by $473 billion over the 2017 to 2026 budget window. It would reduce Medicaid spending by $842 billion and tax credit and other coverage costs by $679 billion. The tax cuts would reduce revenues by $606 billion while the repeal of the employer and individual mandate penalties would reduce revenues by $210 billion. Other budgetary effects would increase the deficit by $210 billion.
Much of the short-term increase would be due to individuals dropping or failing to renew individual, employer, or Medicaid coverage because of the end of the individual mandate penalty or to employers dropping coverage because of the end of the employer mandate penalty. But the CBO also notes that dramatic increases in premiums would drive insureds to drop coverage and discourage enrollment. Few low-income people would purchase coverage once the subsidies disappeared.”
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This means that once the budget cuts are made and Obamacare is repealed and Medicaid is cut back, many would be dropped from their current health care plans. And if they were to try to get coverage somewhere else, the premiums would likely be too high for them to afford. This would, in turn, make it impossible for millions to get coverage.
This would not only push many lower income families out of affordable coverage, but also put millions of Black families at risk for illness and other issues. The Los Angeles Sentinel says, “We know these cuts won’t be felt equally. Black adults are twice as likely to get their coverage through Medicaid than white adults. Although struggling people of all races will suffer under this health care repeal, the effects will hit black communities hardest.”
African Americans have higher rates of diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure, and African American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer. All of these conditions are easily treatable with well-managed health care, which is what the ACA is all about.
The cruelty of taking away health care is unfathomable. Many Black adults got health insurance for the first time in their life under “Obamacare” when many states expanded Medicaid. Unfortunately, too many people were shut out from these gains because some states refused the Medicaid expansion.”
This was a huge step towards equality for millions of Americans that will not just push us back a few years, but probably be a set back for decades. Repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act would be devastating, not only for the Black community but for America as a whole. The increase in premiums would make it impossible for low-income families to get affordable coverage and it will also make it harder for the middle class with increases in premiums for everyone.
The Affordable Care Act was never meant to solve this country’s health care problems or to be a perfect system. But it was a step in the right direction. Now we are on the brink of taking ten steps back.
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