Republicans may be determined to dismantle Obamacare, but the Obama administration and leading Democrats in Congress won’t let it die without a fight.
Democrats are making sure everyone knows just what Obamacare means to Americans nationwide, not just the 20 million who’ve received coverage directly because of the law. The administration released a 100-page report Tuesday highlighting how the health reform law has improved medical care and saved people money over the six years since it was passed.
The report, which includes national and state-level data, looks at the impact Obamacare has had on those with work-based coverage, Medicare, Medicaid and individual plans.
“While 20 million Americans have gained coverage directly as a result of the Affordable Care Act, tens of millions more have benefited from the ACA and have a stake in its future,” said Kathryn Martin, acting assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. “With important health policy debates already underway, we think it’s critical for people to have the information they need to understand the many different ways the ACA has affected Americans’ lives.”
The administration trotted out new talking points estimating the broad reach of the Affordable Care Act. They include:
— Based on the results of the universal coverage effort in Massachusetts that preceded Obamacare, expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act is preventing 24,000 deaths a years. This is largely because more people are going to the doctor and getting treatment, said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which released the report. The share of Americans reporting that they have forgone medical care due to cost has fallen by a third since 2010.
— Some 125,000 deaths were avoided between 2010 and 2015 due to improved care in hospitals, fewer medication errors and lower rates of infection.
— Obamacare has helped slow the increase in health care costs, which has benefited those with work-based coverage. The average family insured through their job is paying $4,400 less in premiums and out-of-pocket costs than they would have been without Obamacare. Medicare enrollees are spending $700 less in premiums and out-of-pocket due to slower growth.
The report noted that the 22% average hike in premiums for 2017 is a one-time correction, not an indication of future instability. The adjustment addressed initial underpricing and a phase out of a program meant to shield insurers with high-cost patients.
On Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a note to her Democratic colleagues citing the initiatives the Obama administration is taking to “inform the American people of what is at stake.”
“There will continue to be an aggressive campaign to mobilize and inform the American people about the ACA,” Pelosi wrote. “To protect the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, Democrats must move quickly to define and expose the consequences of Republicans’ deeply destructive repeal plan.”
The reports come only a few days after President Obama listed the benefits the law has provided, not only for the the roughly 10 million who signed up for policies on the Obamacare exchanges but for all Americans, in his weekly address.
These include: free preventative care, including mammograms and contraception; the end to annual and lifetime coverage limits; prescription discounts for seniors; the ability for children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26; the slowest health care price growth in 50 years, and a ban on discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.
“Now Republicans in Congress want to repeal the whole thing and start from scratch — but trying to undo some of it could undo all of it,” Obama said in the Saturday address. “All those consumer protections — whether you get your health insurance from Obamacare, or Medicare, or Medicaid, or on the job — could go right out the window. So any partisan talk you hear about repealing or replacing it should be judged by whether they keep all those improvements that benefit you and your family right now.”
Obama also made a video with actor Bill Murray, urging people to sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov and letting them know not to worry if they have a pre-existing condition.
While President-elect Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have promised to make repealing Obamacare a top priority for 2017, industry groups and think tanks are warning of the damage that will cause.
The Kaiser Family Foundation released a report Monday that estimated 27% of adult Americans under the age of 65 have health conditions that would likely leave them uninsurable if they applied for individual coverage under the practices in effect prior to Obamacare.
Republicans have promised to protect people with pre-existing conditions and allow children to stay on their parents’ plans. But they have yet to release a detailed replacement plan, leaving many advocates concerned the consumer protections won’t be as robust as they were under Obamacare.