As of last week, more than 6 million people have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges and that number is expected to grow to as many as 7 million by the end of today. Roughly one-third of those people were previously uninsured. Another 4.5 million people have gained health insurance as the result of the expansion of Medicaid (tens of millions more would be eligible if Republican governors had not blocked Medicaid expansion in 24 states). 3 million young adults under age 26 have been added to their parents’ health insurance plans. And millions more have benefited from the ACA provision that prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Meanwhile, there have been few negatives.
Contrary to GOP claims, millions of Americans did not lose insurance when their insurance companies chose to cancel their policies rather than make them comply with the ACA. Indeed, many more Americans now have insurance as a result of the law. According to a survey by the Rand Corporation, the number of adults aged 18 to 64 without health insurance has declined from nearly 21 percent in late 2013 to 16.6 percent as of March 22. And contrary to the GOP, “Obamacare” is not a job-killer. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that it will actually create jobs.
In reality, millions of Americans have already benefited from the law and millions more will. Thanks to the ACA, there are fewer Americans who will have to rely on the Emergency Room for basic health care services and pass the costs along to those who do have insurance. Thanks to the ACA, there are no lifetime caps on the amount insurance companies will pay for an individual’s care. Thanks to the ACA, millions of Americans will no longer be facing financial ruin as the result of catastrophic illness.
Yet Teapublicans are still trying to stop “Obamacare.” The GOP-led House has voted to repeal or change the ACA more than 50 times. And Teapublican candidates are making “Obamacare” the central issue of their campaigns. They claim that the law will bankrupt the nation despite a CBO analysis that found the law will save billions of dollars. They claim that, if elected, they will repeal and replace the law. Yet they offer no replacement. They simply want us to trust them that they will come up with something better – better than the idea that they once promoted before President Obama embraced it.
The only thing the GOP has to offer is going back to what we had – a broken system that left more than 50 million Americans uninsured; a system that was the primary cause of personal bankruptcies in America; a system that led to double-digit inflation of health care costs; a system that encouraged US companies to send American jobs offshore.
But, trust me, no matter what happens in this Fall’s elections, we’re not going back. The millions of Americans who have already benefited from the ACA simply won’t permit it.