Today marks seven years since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Over the past seven years, the law has faced many threats by Republicans who now hope for enough favorable House votes to repeal and replace it with the GOP sponsored American Health Care Act (AHCA).
Yesterday, Democrats honored its anniversary, speaking to a crowd from the east steps of the U.S. Capitol building about the benefits of keeping the ACA and the pitfalls of the GOP’s plan. Speakers included Former Vice President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and advocates for the ACA.
But, perhaps the most compelling message came from Dr. Manan Trivedi, president of the nonprofit National Physicians Alliance (NPA), a non-partisan, non-profit organization that offers a professional home to physicians across medical specialties. Dr. Trivedi said cuts in the bill would hurt the fight against opioid addiction and make it more difficult to address disease outbreaks and childhood lead poisoning.
He then added, “As the vice president said seven years ago, the Affordable Care Act was a ‘big flipping deal,’ and I’ll say that this Republican bill is just a bad flippin’ deal. It’s a bad deal for seniors. It’s a bad deal for children. It’s a bad deal for women. It’s a bad deal if you’re sick, or ever gonna get sick. It’s a bad deal for America.”
The NPA has deep concerns about the impact of proposals in the AHCA on patients and communities across the country, particularly on safety net systems that protect the health of millions of Americans. It points to the March 13 Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate Report for the American Health Care Act.
According to the report, 24 million more people are projected to be uninsured in 10 years under the AHCA than is projected under the ACA, putting the number of uninsured Americans under the House Republicans’ bill at an even higher number than before the ACA was passed.
Through elimination of the Medicaid expansion and a fundamental restructuring of the Medicaid program, $880 billion dollars would be cut from the Medicaid program, resulting in an unprecedented cost shift to states, millions losing Medicaid coverage and millions of seniors, disabled individuals, and other vulnerable populations who rely on the program being put at risk.
The number of uninsured people would greatly increase over time. In 2018 alone, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the AHCA than under ACA, and by 2026, there would be 24 million more uninsured Americans than under the current law.
Health insurance plans under the ACHA would cover a lower share of policy-holders’ health care costs, consumers would face higher deductibles and cost-sharing as premiums would significantly increase for older and low-income consumers, all while providing nearly $600 billion in tax breaks to high-income earners and health insurers.
Under the AHCA, 9 million fewer people would have coverage through the individual market, 9 million fewer people would be covered through Medicaid and 2 million fewer individuals will have coverage through their employer.
Finally, the proposed bill eliminates the Prevention and Public Health Fund established by the ACA, which would significantly undermine efforts to fight things such as disease outbreaks, foodborne infections, childhood lead poisonings, deadly drug-resistant superbugs, and other public health threats, according to the NPA.
The group has been urging Congress to build on health care gains begun by Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and it maintains that the AHCA will undermine and dismantle those gains.
“Look, no matter how you slice it, TrumpCare is dangerous and would hurt Americans in all 50 states,” Schumer said at the rally yesterday.
“Just like when Social Security was passed, there’d have to be improvements made. We’d watch it and see what happens,” Biden said. “And improvements are all doable. They’re all within our wheel-house.”
But the former vice president stressed that the way to fix it is not to scrap it. “Eliminating the Affordable Care Act means eliminating things people badly need.”