Protecting the Affordable Care Act
“The ACA is a lifeline to our family. Without it and its benefits, our family will suffer greatly.” – Alexis, New Port Richey, Florida
On the first day of the new Congress, Senate Republicans took the first concrete steps towards repealing the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, they introduced legislation – a shell of an FY17 budget resolution – whose only purpose is to lay the groundwork for eviscerating major portions of the landmark health care reform bill that has helped millions of Americans.
If all goes according to their plan, the Senate would vote on the budget resolution next week, where it only needs a simple majority to pass (instead of the 60 votes normally required), and the House would vote on it shortly thereafter. If the resolution passes both chambers, four committees that have jurisdiction over health care policy – two in the House and two in the Senate – would have until Jan. 27 to draft portions of repeal legislation. These portions would then be combined into a final piece known as a reconciliation bill, which would also only need a simple majority to pass the Senate. It’s widely expected that the reconciliation bill would eliminate the billions of dollars provided to the states that have chosen to expand Medicaid eligibility, and repeal the subsidies that help lower-income individuals afford insurance through the exchanges, with those terminations set to take effect in two or more years. Reports are that Republicans hope to pass the resolution by Jan. 20 and the repeal reconciliation bill by Feb. 20.
There would be no replacement plan for the ACA offered at this time; Republicans say that would come later, though the specifics of what a replacement plan may look like and when it will be revealed haven’t been released yet. It was also announced Wednesday that President-elect Trump will take executive actions on health care on his first few days in office, but no details of what those executive actions will look like were provided. Members of Congress who vote to repeal with no plan in place to assure continued coverage are willing to put millions of people’s health and lives in peril.
CHN members and friends have been busy putting together and pushing out resources that show how truly devastating repealing the ACA would be:
A report from the Urban Institute estimates that repealing portions of the ACA through the reconciliation process described above would cause 30 million people, 82 percent of whom are in working families, to lose their coverage by 2019. This would happen through the elimination of subsidies, the Medicaid expansion and the individual mandate, and through the collapse of the individual insurance market. In addition, they estimate that repealing the ACA will more than double the number of uninsured children in America, leaving an addition 4 million children uninsured.
Families USA has new fact sheets outlining what’s at stake in each state. They point out, for example, that 671,000 Illinoisans, most of whom are working, stand to lose coverage if the Medicaid expansion is eliminated, and 1.2 million children and 2.1 million seniors in Illinois will lose guaranteed access to free preventative care.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities also has state-by-state fact sheets, and a new interactive slider that shows how much progress the states have made in covering their uninsured residents and how much would be lost if the ACA’s coverage expansions are eliminated. The Center also has great pieces on why certain replacement proposals being floated by Republicans and the Trump Administration – like health savings accounts, high-risk pools, and turning Medicaid into a block grant – would hurt low-income families and strain state budgets.
MomsRising, whose members were on Capitol Hill Thursday advocating for the millions who would be adversely affected by repealing the ACA, is also collecting and sharing stories online in a blog series.
So how can you act to defend and protect the gains we’ve made for millions of Americans? Share these resources and others from CHN’s Washington 2017 resource page with your networks, using the hashtag #ProtectOurCare. Use Families USA’s site to email your Senators, or call your Senators using a number provided by Bread for the World, and urge them to protect the ACA. Share your story with CHN in the comments below and tell us why quality, affordable health coverage matters to you. And sign CHN’s letter for groups and/or petition for individuals telling the new Congress and the Trump Administration to protect the ACA and all programs the help low-income and vulnerable people.
Repealing the Affordable Care Act would strip coverage from millions of Americans and remove important consumer protections, jeopardizing the health and financial security of children, seniors and adults. Now is the time to join in the fight to defend and protect the ACA.