United Church of Christ – Wider Church Ministries
Humanitarian Development Team
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Daily Briefing
Barbara T. Baylor, MPH – Temporary Health Liaison
Repeal the ACA?! Doom for Many, Especially in Pandemic
Take Action! Contact the President now to insist he recant his call to repeal the Affordable Care Act, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also call on the U.S. Supreme Court to ask it to keep the ACA intact. Full contact information is below.
Last week, the Trump Administration asked the U.S. Supreme Court to permanently end the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (The Affordable Care Act), the health insurance reform law also known as Obamacare.
If this law is repealed, 23.3 million Americans will lose their health coverage, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress - about 3 million (15 percent) more people than was forecast before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that “130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions would lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections.” To add insult to injury, a COVID-19 diagnosis could be considered a pre-existing condition, leading to higher premiums or denial of health insurance coverage.
To date, the COVID-19 pandemic has infected over 2.5 million Americans, killing more than 125,000. And the pandemic roars on. The push to kill the Affordable Care Act and strip millions of their health coverage is especially cruel and heartless during this national public emergency.
The lawsuit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act is generated by the Trump Administration and 18 state attorneys general, led by Texas. It has drawn opposition from hospitals and doctors, including the American Medical Association. The Court is expected to hear the case in spring 2021, when the unemployment rate is anticipated to still be about 10 percent and possibly amid a continuing COVID-19 public health crisis.
The ACA health insurance reform law just passed its 10th anniversary on March 23, 2020. It has successfully provided millions with accessible and affordable healthcare and has lowered healthcare costs. Now with one fell swoop the U.S. Supreme Court could bring an end to the Affordable Care Act, causing a domino effect on services and programs that would devastate low- to modest-income families, women, children, those with disabilities, and seniors.
If the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is totally repealed:
Pre-existing condition exclusion clauses could return.
Insurance companies could and probably would return to denying or delaying coverage to people living with chronic illnesses. They could implement lifetime maximums that people with severe or rare conditions would quickly reach, charge women more than men, and kick young adults off as soon as they turn 18 years old. Especially devastating would be the denial of insurance or the charging of higher premiums to COVID-19 survivors and people who subsequently contract COVID-19.
High risk pools could return.
People with high risk diseases could be placed in high risk insurance pools, forcing them to pay extremely high premiums for insurance coverage.
Annual lifetime cap limits could disappear.
If payment caps are lifted, once a patient hits the limit that their health insurance would pay, they would be forced to pay full price out-of-pocket for their healthcare.
“Skinny plans” could become more popular.
Skinny plans provide insurance with minimal coverage and are not required to cover the Ten Essential Health Benefits. The Affordable Care Act required health insurance companies to cover these essential health benefits, which include: ambulatory patient services (outpatient services), emergency services, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance use disorder services, prescription drugs, pediatric services, and oral and vision care.
Prevention and public health care funds could be slashed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could lose 12 percent of its annual budget, according to an analysis by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH). Services supported by the Prevention Fund include immunizations, screenings for cancer and diabetes, well-child visits, mammograms, and lack of cost-sharing for contraception. Notably, the funding impact would be felt by public health organizations in their work to prepare and respond to several major health crises including COVID-19.
Medicaid Expansion funding could be lost.
Under the ACA about 12 million adults and children are covered under Medicaid Expansion. Repealing the Affordable Care Act could eliminate matching Medicaid funding and expansion states could lose up to $135 billion dollars in federal funding. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities predicts that due to the economic hardship presented by the pandemic, states could respond by creating emergency special enrollment periods.
Loss of coverage for young adults 18-26.
The ACA requires employer plans that cover dependents to include young adults up to age 26. If the ACA is repealed, more than 2 million young adults could lose coverage under the ACA’s dependent coverage provision.
Risk to Medicare beneficiaries.
Elimination of the ACA could increase some beneficiaries’ premiums, deductibles, and copayments in Medicare Part A and Part B and could eliminate Medicare savings.
Racial disparities could worsen.
Urban Institute researchers have projected that among the non-elderly, ACA repeal could cause nearly 1 in 10 Black people and 1 in 10 Hispanic people to lose coverage.
Another 1.2 million Americans could lose employment due specifically to the ACA's repeal.
Losing health insurance would be devastating for family finances and hurt the economy, The ACA has helped millions of Americans afford their healthcare. If this support is withdrawn, people will have less money to spend on other basic necessities such as food and rent. Fewer dollars spent at grocery stores and other businesses means 1.2 million jobs could be lost.
CALL TO ACTION:
The United Church of Christ historically has spoken prophetically that we need a system of healthcare in this country that works for everyone! We have the opportunity once again to move beyond words to action.
1. INSIST that the President recant his heartless call to destroy the Affordable Care Act, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The White House – 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20500
Phone #s: 1-202-456-1414 - Switchboard / 1-202-456-1111 - Comments
2. INSIST that members of the U. S. Supreme Court keep the Affordable Care Act intact. Americans cannot afford to be without healthcare or lose access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatment and general healthcare.
Supreme Court of the United States - 1 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20543
Time sensitive and urgent questions: Contact the Public Information Office at the following number: 202-479-3211