During this past week as the Senate went about its confirmation process with Juge Amy Coney Barrett who President Donald Trump wants on the Supreme Court, to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg the Democrats kept bringing up the issue of healthcare. Why such a focus on the future of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?
For almost a decade the Republicans including President Trump have wanted to get rid of the A.C.A /Obamacare. They continue to say that they are for supporting any ban on preexisting conditions but the facts simply do not support their theory of the case.
In the decade the Republicans have been slowly gutting and weakening the plan there are two things that are certain. First, they do not have a plan to replace the ACA/Obamacare, second and perhaps more importantly according to a recent article in Forbes business magazine the law has never been more popular.
Here is what Forbes reported on their findings:
The Affordable Care Act wins 55% support among the public for its “highest rating” since becoming law nearly a decade ago, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll.
“The recent uptick reflects strong support among Democrats, 85% of whom now express favorable views,” Kaiser said in its analysis. “A narrow majority (53%) of independents also view the law favorably. While most Republicans (77%) still hold unfavorable views towards the ACA, the poll suggests that Republican voters have largely moved on from efforts to repeal the ACA and now rank opposition to a single-payer government health plan like Medicare-for-all among their top health priorities.”
So, the Barrett hearing was a chance for the Democrats to make sure that the majority of voters in the United States would know the future of the ACA/Obamacare is very uncertain. If confirmed which at this point is a simple formality then Justice Barrett would be on the court to hear a case set for Nov. 10 that could toss out the entire law out including the protections for preexisting conditions.
In fact, the Trump White House is backing a legal case brought by a group of Republican states, led by Texas, arguing the individual mandate – the provision that requires Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a financial penalty – was made unconstitutional when the GOP-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the fee to zero. The suit contends that if that part of ObamaCare is invalid, so is the rest of the law. and that the entire ACA should be tossed.
During the Barrett here are the facts that can not be disputed about the high court striking down the ACA. The following statements were made about the ACA/Obamacare during the Barrett hearings.
SEN. TED CRUZ:(R-TX) “‘Obamacare’ has doubled the profits of the big health insurance companies, doubled them. ‘Obamacare’ has been great corporate welfare for giant health insurance companies at the same time, according to the Kaiser foundation, premiums — average families’ premiums — have risen more than — have risen $7,967 per year on average. That is catastrophic that millions of Americans can’t afford health care. It is a catastrophic failure of ‘Obamacare.’”
THE FACTS: No, family premiums for health insurance have not risen by $7,967 per year, as Cruz asserted. Nowhere close.
That figure comes from the Kaiser Family Foundation but it captures the increase over 11 years — 2009 to 2020 — not per year, as the Republican senator from Texas put it. In addition, the figure applies to the cost of premiums for employer-provided coverage, not for “Obamacare” or for health insurance overall.
Kaiser’s Larry Levitt says the cost of employer coverage wasn’t much affected by the health law and “the increase in premiums is largely due to changes in underlying health care costs over this period.”
The law’s premiums for a standard “silver” individual plan purchased by a hypothetical 40-year-old went up from an average of $273 a month nationally in 2014, to $462 this year.
Levitt said there’s not a clear equivalent for a family premium in the health law’s marketplaces; what a family pays is the sum of each member’s individual premiums.
Cruz’s take on insurer profits also missed the mark. Some major insurers lost money for a time selling “Obamacare” coverage, and several companies exited the health law’s markets. The law actually has a provision that in effect limits insurer profits.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): “Under the Affordable Care Act, three states get 35% of the money, folks. Can you name them? I’ll help you, California, New York and Massachusetts. They’re 22% of the population. … Now, why did they get 35% of the money when they are only 22% of the population?”
THE FACTS: The South Carolina senator’s suggestion that Democrats designed the health law to benefit Democratic states is misleading.
Big states with higher premiums and more enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces get more federal money. But that’s driven by differences in premiums between states and by the number of people who sign up for taxpayer-subsidized coverage.
Moreover, some states such as South Carolina get much less federal money under the health law because they chose not to expand Medicaid, where the federal government picks up 90% of the cost.
With so much uncertainty during the COVID 19 pandemic, it could be a major health care disaster if the ACA is tossed out by the Supreme Court but there is a way to save the law.
If Joe Biden is elected President with a Democratic Senate then the future of an ACA 2.0 will come to pass saving the all-important preexisting conditions exemption.
That is why elections are important.