September 26, 2017, Senate leaders abandoned plans to bring the Graham-Cassidy ACA repeal bill before the full Senate for a vote. This decision arose after it became clear that the bill lacked the votes needed to pass. Like previous proposals defeated earlier this year in the Senate, the Graham-Cassidy proposal, sought to cut health coverage and raise premiums and out-of-pocket costs for millions. Additionally, the proposal wanted to eliminate the Prevention and Public Health Fund, slash federal Medicaid spending and end the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and allow states to weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions. If passed, the bill would have provided states a smaller amount of money — about $240 billion less between 2020 and 2026, by one estimate — in the form of block grants to spend on unspecified subsidies for health insurance and care. Additionally, the bill would repeal the ACA’s individual mandate to obtain insurance coverage, the mandate for large employers to provide coverage to employees, and the law’s tax on medical device makers. Individuals with preexisting conditions would, however, still have access to affordable coverage, according to a section-by-section description of the law released by lawmakers.
For now, millions of people will keep their health care coverage, and the Prevention and Public Health Fund will remain in place, providing critical resources to improve public health in our communities. Though the ACA is not immune from future attacks, open enrollment for 2018 health care coverage runs November 1 – December 15, 2017. Coverage begins January 1, 2018.
The Affordable Care Act is the nation’s comprehensive health reform law enacted in March 2010 (sometimes known as ACA, PPACA, or “Obamacare”). The law aims to reform both our private and public health insurance systems. Since it was enacted, it has helped about 20 million people get health insurance. In addition to increasing insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act makes investments in programs designed to reduce the cost and improve the quality of health care. For example, an evaluation of the Partnership for Patients, an initiative dedicated to reducing hospital-acquired conditions, estimates the program helped save 125,000 lives and $28.2 billion in health care costs from 2011 to 2015. Among the law’s many goals: increase benefits and lower costs for consumers, support innovative medical care delivery methods designed to lower the costs of health care generally, provide new funding for public health and prevention, bolster our health care and public health workforce and infrastructure, foster innovation and quality in our system, and more.
The continued implementation of the Affordable Care Act is needed to make further progress. By making health coverage more affordable and accessible and thus increasing the number of Americans with coverage, by funding community-based public health and prevention programs, and by supporting research and tracking on key health measures, the ACA is beginning to reduce disparities in health insurance coverage, increase access to preventive care, improve health outcomes and reduce the rate of growth in the nation’s health spending. The law does all of this while also preventing discrimination of people with pre-existing conditions and prohibiting insurers from charging women more for their care.
3 ways to stay up-to-date about the Marketplace
- Sign up for email or text updates and reminders: Visit the HealthCare.gov homepage, enter your email address under “Get important news & updates,” and click “Sign up.”
- Connect with someone in your area to answer any questions you have: Visit the “Find Local Help” page (localhelp.healthcare.gov/) and search by city and state or ZIP code to find trained helpers in your community.
- Interact via social media: Follow the Marketplace on Twitter (@HealthCareGov), and like them on (@HealthCare.gov)
Resources for More Information
- Read a fact sheet created by the American Public Health Association on why we still need the Affordable Care Act
- Read the Affordable Care Act
- Know your rights and protections under the health care law
Contribution By: Karimah Prescott, Siksika Chapter, NGC New Chapter Advisor