When he announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in October 2013, Ben Sasse made the ridiculous prediction that: “If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) survives, America will cease to exist.” Sasse’s prognostication followed upon the heels of a whole string of apocalyptic predictions from his fellow Republicans – mostly notable John Boehner’s prediction that the ACA will cause “Armageddon” and “ruin our country.”
I have good news for Sasse and Boehner. New evidence has further confirmed that the ACA is working and improving the lives of millions of Americans. It’s now safe for Senator Sasse to emerge from his survivalist bunker because it looks like the U.S. will not only survive – it will continue to thrive and be the greatest country in the world.
An important piece of that evidence came from a report from Journal of the American Medical Association which indicates that the ACA has improved access to health care. This study shows that the ACA’s open enrollment periods – when millions of Americans signed up for health insurance for the first time – were “associated with significantly improved trends in self-reported coverage, access to primary care and medications, affordability, and health.” This study flies in the face of all of the GOP allegations that the ACA has reduced access to care due to high out of pocket health care costs and the difficulty in finding doctors who can provide timely consultations.
Yet another new report – this one from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – proves that the ACA has delivered on it’s primary goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. This CDC report indicates that the number of uninsured Americans has been reduced to 9.2% – the lowest level in American history. Until now, no reputable study had ever found that the uninsured rate in the U.S. dropped below 10% into the single digits. What this means is that the level of the uninsured has been cut in half since 2008 – that rate has been reduced from 18% in 2008 to 9.2% in 2015. That is a monumental accomplishment.
Since the implementation of the ACA in late 2013, approximately 16 million additional Americans have become insured. Moreover, if current trends should continue, the uninsured rate will continue to decline as enrollment in the ACA exchanges and Medicaid keeps going up.
In addition to evidence showing that the ACA is helping millions of Americans, there are also new studies which have rebutted the tired and inaccurate GOP contentions that Obama Care is a job killer and that insurance premiums are rising at an excessive rate.
For years, the detractors of health care reform have been telling us that the ACA is a “job killer” and that the employer mandate would cause employers to lay people off or give employees fewer hours to work. However, no less than three recent reports indicate that businesses have not changed how they hire and schedule their employees in response to the ACA. According to Chris Ryan, a vice president at the payroll-management firm ADP: “Shifts in scheduling were trivial in every sector of the economy, even in industries that rely heavily on part-time work, such as leisure and hospitality.”
ADP’s findings were confirmed in another study by two professors at George Mason University and Michael Strain of the right wing American Enterprise Institute (AEI.) The paper from the AEI concluded that: “There was no statistically significant change in the proportion of part-time workers in the sectors most likely to be affected by Obamacare, such as janitorial and restaurant work.”
Another dog that didn’t bark was the Obama Care premium “rate shock” allegation that is breathlessly reported by Fox News on a regular basis. (Remember how cheap insurance was during the Bush Administration? I don’t.) According to a report from the non-partisan Commonwealth Fund, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums grew more slowly in 31 states and the District of Columbia after the passage of the ACA in 2010.
Insurance premiums have risen more slowly in the states that have cooperated in the implementation of Obama Care as opposed to the ones – like Nebraska – that have resisted it. For example, insurance premiums will only increase 4% in California in 2016 because they have passed the Medicaid expansion and have a Department of Insurance that protects consumers rather than insurance companies.
The totality of the evidence proves that the ACA has been a big success. Many more Americans have become insured and health care costs have grown at their slowest rate since the 1960s. Moreover, the ACA has resulted in the greatest expansion of insurance coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. All of the predictions of doom and gloom from the likes of Ben Sasse and John Boehner have proven to be wildly inaccurate.
We can’t take these accomplishments for granted. All of the Republican running for President and Congress are committed to the total repeal of the ACA. Moreover, the GOP after more than six years still hasn’t come up with a consensus replacement plan. Perhaps the “best” plan they have come up with is Donald Trump’s promise to replace the ACA with “something terrific.”
If we are to preserve the ACA and allow it to continue insure more Americans, we must work hard to elect a Democratic President and Congress in 2016. Only by winning next year’s election can we guarantee continued progress. The last thing we can afford to let occur would be to allow the Republicans to return to power. The last time the GOP was in charge in Washington, they did nothing when 8 million Americans lost their insurance coverage and ruined the economy.
We Democrats have a good record to run on in 2016 Like I said, we have succeeded in insuring 16 million Americans and reducing the uninsured rate to the lowest level in U.S. history. Moreover, the economy is now creating more jobs than at anytime since the late 1990s. We need to remind the American people about our accomplishments and the GOP failures again and again. If we don’t do it, nobody else will.