Our lives are at risk. Congress has taken the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. We have seen the new President sign an order to undermine the Act, as his first action in the White House! Let's take a step back and look at some real facts: thanks to the Affordable Care Act, over 20 million people have gained health insurance. Not only do millions of people have a safety net where they had none before, according to the Congressional Budget Office, "CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that federal deficits would increase by $353 billion over the 2016-2025 period if the ACA was repealed."¹
Now let's look at some real stories of real people. If Republican leaders in the House and Senate are successful in repealing the Affordable Care Act, many people with breast cancer could lose their coverage. Women like Vicki Tosher, an NBCC activist in Colorado and a three time breast cancer survivor who shared her story with The Denver Post. If not for the coverage Vicki receives through the Affordable Care Act, Vicki would not have had access to the treatment she needed, "For people like me, it isn't just a theoretical concern that President Trump and Congress will gamble with our healthcare system by repealing Obamacare without a comprehensive replacement plan. For me, it's a real-life threat to my retirement savings -- and my life."
Chiara D'Agostino, another breast cancer activist, shared her story with NBCC: "When I finished a Master's Degree program in Italy and returned to the U.S. in August 2014, I had no job or insurance. I applied for insurance under Obamacare and got accepted for Medicaid in September. In October, I found a lump in my breast and was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Stage III. Medicaid under Obamacare covered all of the treatment costs ... In August 2016, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, and I continue to get full coverage. I'm very worried about what could happen with a new president. Medicaid is saving my life, and I don't know what I would do without it."
Because of women like Chiara, Vicki and thousands of others, the National Breast Cancer Coalition has advocated for guaranteed access to quality care for all since its inception in 1991. We believe access to care is a right, not a luxury. . We made it our top public policy priority and developed the framework for what this legislative approach should look like. While we understand the ACA has not been a perfect plan, it has, without a doubt, saved lives.
But here's what happens if it's repealed, beyond its affect on the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office recently released a report that details how legislation to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act, would affect Americans. The CBO analyzed legislation enacted by the last Congress, and vetoed by President Obama, H.R. 3762, According to the report, 18 million people would lose coverage the first year if this or a similar repeal bill becomes law, and that number will increase to 32 million uninsured by 2026. For those who remain insured through individual policies, it is estimated that premiums will rise 20 to 25 percent in the first year, rising to an increase of 50 percent following elimination of the Medicaid expansion by 2026.²
In addition to rising premiums and lost safety nets, repeal of the ACA will impact jobs. A report published recently by the Commonwealth Fund found that: "Repeal results in a $140 billion loss in federal funding for health care in 2019, leading to the loss of 2.6 million jobs (mostly in the private sector) that year across all states. A third of lost jobs are in health care, with the majority in other industries. If replacement policies are not in place, there will be a cumulative $1.5 trillion loss in gross state products and a $2.6 trillion reduction in business output from 2019 to 2023. States and health care providers will be particularly hard hit by the funding cuts."³
Why is it that Congress and the White House hate this law so much? A law that has saved lives, saved money and created jobs? For the millions of women and men currently living with breast cancer, access to quality and affordable healthcare could mean life or death. Why do our leaders not care about our lives?
A Call to Action
For those who have benefited from enrolling in the Affordable Care Act, and/or expansion of Medicaid in your state, we want to hear from you. Send your personal stories to MyACAStory@breastcancerdeadline2020.org and we will share them through our social media channels and with Congress. If you and others in your community are involved in rallies or other events, we would also love to share your experiences through brief videos, which can be downloaded to this link. Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and help us fight this crucial battle.
1. Congressional Budget Office, Budgetary and Economic Effects of Repealing the Affordable Care Act (CBO, June 2015)
2. Congressional Budget Office, How Repealing Portions of the Affordable Care Act Would Affect Health Insurance Coverage and Premiums (CBO, January 2017)
3. Leighton Ku, Erika Steinmetz, Erin Brantley, and Brian Bruen, Repealing Federal Health Reform: Economic and Employment Consequences for States, The Commonwealth Fund Issue Brief January 2017.