From inception, the Affordable Care Act attempted to strike a delicate balance between affordability for consumers and sustainability for insurers, all against a backdrop of varying health risks. Some components of the ACA have worked tremendously well, resulting in increased health care access for millions of Americans, while other components have been fraught with difficulty, like cost-sharing.
As we all know, elected officials are now seeking to repeal and replace the ACA. As we also know, health care is incredibly complex and any changes can deeply disrupt the progress toward health.
As legislators ponder the changes ahead, we hope they will tread with great caution in the realm of the Affordable Care Act.
As a physician who has served people in poverty for years and now as the CEO of a foundation that works on behalf of the underserved and uninsured, I have seen great change after the passage of the ACA — change that is meaningful and life-altering for many people.
I am also a pragmatist, and I know that an act this sweeping could not be perfect on the first round. However, here is what has been incredibly beneficial about the ACA:
- 95,000 additional vulnerable children in Missouri and 41,000 in Kansas enrolled through Medicaid
- 250,000 Missourians and 96,000 Kansans covered on the exchange
- Coverage for young adults
- Coverage for people with migraines, asthma, C-sections, osteoporosis and others which were considered pre-existing conditions in the past
- Women not charged up to twice as much for the “pre-existing condition” of being female
- Preventive services coverage for all insured
- No lifetime limits for those with catastrophic illness
- Better medication coverage for the elderly
- Reduced pressure on hospitals, especially those in rural areas
- Reduced cost shifting to employers who are buying insurance for their workers
Quite frankly, the ACA affects every Missourian and Kansan.
Coverage uncertainty puts all of these gains at risk. I urge our elected representatives take their time to have a well-constructed plan before making changes that have effects on the people and the economy of Missouri and Kansas.