The Affordable Care Act Turns 5
This week marks the 5th anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. While the law appears to be making progress toward achieving its goals, it remains as divisive as ever and continues to face attempts to dismantle the law.
Just last month, emboldened by the new Republican majority in the U.S. Senate, the House recently voted to repeal the law for the 56th time in an overwhelmingly partisan vote with no Democrats voting to repeal. The new Republican majority in the Senate is expected to do the same as part of budget votes this week.
And in what could be the most credible threat yet to the law, the Supreme Court is set to rule on the King v. Burwell case in June. The case challenges language in the law that says federal subsidies to buy health insurance in the marketplace are awarded in “an Exchange established by the state.” Because the federal government runs the exchanges in 38 states, the case is challenging the subsidies awarded in states with a federally-facilitated marketplace violate the intention of the law. This could jeopardize subsidies for 9.6 million Americans.
Despite the ongoing debate, the Obama administration celebrated the 5-year anniversary this week announcing about 16.4 million uninsured people have gained health coverage, through the new Health Insurance Marketplace and which expanded Medicaid coverage in 28 states plus Washington D.C. This is the largest reduction of the uninsured in four decades, and according to Gallup, the number of uninsured Americans dropped to 12%.
Despite the majority of Americans opposition to the law as a whole, they overwhelmingly support the protections the law enacted including no longer being able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, free wellness benefits, and young adults can stay on their parent’s coverage until they are 26.
Additionally, there are signs the law is making inroads in slowing the rising cost of health care, and the law is predicted to cost $139 billion less than projected in 2010.
Despite the recent good news for the Obama administration, with the upcoming decision from the Supreme Court and looming presidential election, don’t expect the debate over the ACA to go away anytime soon.