The Bad Old Days

In the GOP presidential debate on Thursday night we heard a number of remarkable promises from the candidates on economic issues. One rosy-sounding promise on creating jobs came from a former governor whose state ranked 47th in the nation in job creation during his term in office.

Another optimistic promise about improving health insurance coverage came from a governor whose state has one of the highest percentages of residents without health insurance in the nation.

Most notably, all the GOP candidates have cheerily promised that one of their highest priorities if elected would be to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But none of them offered insights into the real economic effects that such a repeal would have on people's lives, especially on the lives of women and children. Not surprising really. The effects of going back to "the bad old days" before reform would be pretty awful in the current economic conditions, especially for women and children.

According to a report prepared by the Joint Economic Committee, prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 64 million women lacked adequate health insurance. Amongst low-income women, 39 percent lacked coverage.

None of the candidates pointed out to their audience in Florida that without the provisions of the Affordable Care act, women between the ages of 55 and 64 are particularly vulnerable to losing their health insurance benefits because of their husbands' transition from employer- sponsored coverage to Medicare.

None of the candidates pointed that repeal would put an end to the assistance older women now receive in paying for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare Part D because of the donut hole.

None of the candidates explained why it would be a good thing if we went back to the "bad old days" when children couldn't be covered under their parents' policy up to age 26 as is now possible and when pre-existing conditions could result in a denial of insurance coverage. Such "conditions" could include pregnancy, having previously had a Caesarian section, or even being a victim of domestic violence.

None of the candidates explained why it would be a good idea if we went back to the bad old days when insurance companies could deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions.

And not one of the Republican candidates mentioned a study published in 2009, in the American Journal of Public Health, that found that there were approximately 44,789 deaths among Americans aged 18 to 64 years in 2005 associated with lack of health insurance. Going back to "the bad old days" prior to health care reform will clearly have a cost in lives.

In fact, the highly negative effects and economic impact that a repeal of health care reform would have on women and children simply was not mentioned at all and was not even considered. And that alone is a pretty striking reminder of how things really used to be, back in "the bad old days," back in the days before the Affordable Care Act.