Last week the New York Times reported even that while the number of Americans living in poverty has declined, the number of people without insurance has actually gone up. This is the first increase in the ranks of the uninsured since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted. The New York Times reported that “experts said it was at least partly the result of the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the law.”
Over the course of this administration, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has highlighted how the ACA has been weakened by executive action (or inaction). While it is no surprise that these actions have taken their toll, it is shocking so many Americans were uninsured while average income increased. In 2018, the number of people without insurance grew to 27.5 million.
Though it was limited by the political realities of the time when it was created, the ACA transformed American health care for the better. Our health care system is more equitable because the ACA banned discrimination based on age or health status. Quality of care has been improved because the ACA mandated plans cover essential health benefits. And the ACA made health care services more affordable by offering subsidies to help low income people afford coverage. To see these gains reversed should concern everyone that places value on fair access to quality health care.
Even though much damage has been done, it is not too late to reverse course. Access to coverage must be increased not decreased. The ACA must be administered and strengthened, not weakened. We once again call on the administration do no more harm to our health care system and end efforts to undermine the ACA.
September 19, 2019 – B. Belton