By Teresa Welsh |
It's been over two years since the Affordable Care Act became law, and almost two weeks since the Supreme Court confirmed that it is, in fact, constitutional. Yet its opponents just can't accept this reality. This week Congress will vote on repealing the law, even though opponents have no plan of their own to fix the nation's health system. Repeal is a terrible idea for our nation's health, as well as our pocketbooks. Here's why:
First, repeal would harm millions. Healthcare reform has already stopped insurance companies from denying coverage for 17 million children with preexisting conditions. It also eliminated "lifetime caps" for over 100 million people, guaranteeing their coverage will continue, even after a devastating injury or illness. Today, over 3 million young adults have insurance because they can stay on their parent's plans. And over 86 million Americans have benefited from the law's guarantee of free preventive services.
This is just the start. In 2014, uninsured Americans will be able to shop for affordable insurance in new marketplaces called exchanges, and millions will qualify for tax credits to help pay for their coverage. If you're uninsured, it will still be your choice to buy insurance, but if you can afford insurance and choose not to purchase it, other taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free. Instead, you'll pay a shared responsibility penalty to offset some of the cost if you get sick.
At that time other protections will also kick in: for example, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against the 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.
Second, repeal would weaken Medicare. Medicare will now stay solvent through 2024, eight years longer than before the law. Reform also improves Medicare's drug benefit by closing the "donut hole," a change that has already saved over 5 million seniors an average of $600. And it strengthens Medicare's preventive care coverage: beneficiaries no longer pay for annual wellness visits or critical preventive services, including cancer screenings.
Third, repeal is financially irresponsible. Health reform will reduce the deficit by more than $120 billion in the next decade, an important step towards containing rising Healthcare costs that threaten the country's budget and economic health.
Thanks to reform, we are on the path to better health and economy security. Instead of wasting time rehashing political fights about the law, it's time to move forward with its implementation.
About Maura Calsyn Associate Director of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress
Ethan Rome Executive Director of Health Care for America Now
Ron Pollack Founding Executive Director of Families USA
Nina Owcharenko Director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for Health Policy Studies
Mitt Romney Republican Candidate for President