Not So Fast? People Are Standing Up for Obamacare and Repeal May Be Slowing Down

By Bethanne Fox, February 13, 2017

In recent days, the momentum around repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has slowed considerably. What was once the new administration’s first order of business feels as if it has been put on the back burner due in no small part to constituents’ vocal opposition.

Representatives’ email and voicemail inboxes have been flooded with pleas for them not to destroy the law. There have been statehouse protests and town hall meetings nationwide—some legislators have even had to sneak out back doors to avoid angry constituents.

The fierce opposition to repeal has taken those who oppose the law by surprise. It has even taken some of us who work in health policy and health care by surprise.

But that shouldn’t be the case. Why? Time and time again the evidence has shown that the ACA is helping millions of Americans.

Just last week, The Commonwealth Fund released its Biennial Health Insurance Survey. Here’s what it found:

  • The ACA has made it easier for people who have to buy their own health insurance to find a plan that they can afford.
  • The uninsured rate has dropped substantially since the law passed: 37 million people were uninsured in 2010, and by 2016 that number had dropped to 23 million.
  • The law has especially helped people with low incomes and people who have health problems get health insurance

Does the ACA need improving? Yes. The marketplaces can be made stronger and affordability needs to be addressed, especially for those who don’t qualify for subsidies to help them pay their premiums. States that have not expanded Medicaid need to do so. As with any policy, once it has been tested in the real world, improvements need to be made. But these flaws are minor in comparison to the law’s successes.

The ACA has helped us make great strides, and we cannot reverse the progress we have made. I’m glad that legislators appear to have hit the pause button. Let’s hope they stop repeal completely and do what is right to ensure millions of Americans can get the health care they need.

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