The controversial Republican plan to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act will strip health insurance from millions of citizens, returning America to a not-so-healthy place we’ve already been, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s American Health Care Act analysis.
Wait! Haven’t we been here before? It’s 2009 all over again
- In 2026, one in six Americans will lack health insurance, concludes the Congressional Budget Office.
- In 2009, one in six Americans lacked health insurance, with disastrous results.
If history is a teacher, we can learn from 2009. Here’s what we may be looking forward to if the Affordable Act is repealed and replaced with the current Republican plan:
“The evidence shows more clearly than ever that having health insurance is essential for people’s health and well-being, and safety-net services are not enough to prevent avoidable illness, worse health outcomes, and premature death,” said a report by the national Institute of Medicine in 2009. “Moreover, new research suggests that when local rates of uninsurance are relatively high, even people with insurance are more likely to have difficulty obtaining needed care and to be less satisfied with the care they receive.”
“With health insurance, children are more likely to gain access to a regular source of care, immunizations and checkups, needed medications, asthma treatment, and basic dental services. Serious childhood health problems are more likely to be identified early, and those with special needs are more likely to have access to specialists. Insured children experience fewer hospitalizations and improved asthma outcomes, and they miss fewer days of school.”
“Adults without health insurance are much less likely to receive clinical preventive services that can reduce unnecessary illness and premature death. Chronically ill, uninsured adults delay or forgo checkups and therapies, including medications. They are more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage cancers that could have been detected earlier, and to die when hospitalized for trauma or other serious conditions, such as heart attack or stroke. Uninsured men and women with cancer, heart disease, serious injury, stroke, respiratory failure, pulmonary illness, hip fracture, and seizures are also more likely to suffer poorer outcomes, greater limitations in quality of life, and premature death. New evidence demonstrates that obtaining coverage lessens or reverses many of these harmful effects.”
(All above quotes from America’s Uninsured Crisis: Consequences for Health and Health Care, 2009; emphasis added)
Millions Can’t Afford Health Insurance, Then & Now
The Affordable Care Act made a huge dent in the shameful profile of the US as the world’s richest nation—and one which spends more on health care than other high-income countries but has worse outcomes—but which has the most incomplete health insurance coverage for citizens.
”As of the end of 2015, the number of uninsured nonelderly Americans stood at 28.5 million, a decrease of nearly 13 million since 2013,” according to Kaiser’s study, noting that the ACA’s major coverage provisions, which went into effect in January 2014, have led to significant coverage gains.
The proposed Republican legislation will cancel out the hard-won gains in extending health insurance coverage achieved by the Obama administration.
With proposed cutbacks in Medicaid, higher premiums, and shifting responsibility to states for providing insurance to the most vulnerable, the Republican plan really does take millions of Americans back to a not-so-great future. In 2009, in the America that President Obama inherited, after an eight-year Republican administration in Washington, millions of Americans went without health services for lack of insurance. With ideologues committed to undoing the Obama health plan, ACA, and replacing it with tax breaks for the rich and expensive, deregulation, devolution of Medicaid to state control, and disruptions in the insurance marketplace, the Republican administration is risking the health of millions of Americans.
Doing the Numbers
The anxiously-awaited CBO report, American Health Care Act, offers a quantitative analysis of the impact of the Republican effort to gut the Obama administration’s signature accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act. The CBO report explains that by 2020 “the increase in the number of newly uninsured people .... would rise to 21 million in 2020,” and then, within a decade, rise to 24 million in 2026.
Adding together a) those who are uninsured today with b) those for whom ACA repeal would mean the end of their health insurance, the 2017 CBO report sums it up:
“In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”
The total population of the US today is about 319 million. Do the math. Sixteen percent of Americans will lack health insurance in a decade, according to the CBO. That’s one in six. The nation’s health future will return to a not-so great past, if ACA is repealed and replaced.