5 Reasons Repealing ObamaCare Would Be Terrible

by Seth Millstein

Officially, it’s called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Policy wonks call it the ACA for short. To most everyone else, it’s ObamaCare (very few people call it BaucusCare, though that’s arguably a more accurate nickname).

Whatever name you give it, the health care reform law has been the subject of Republican outrage since before it even passed, largely because it has Obama’s name on it (yes, there’s quantifiable proof that this is true). The House GOP has cast 40 meaningless, non-binding votes to repeal the law, and congressional Republicans now want to make the continuing funding of the government contingent on scrapping the law.

But repealing the ACA, which goes into effect in a big way October 1st, would be a very, very bad idea. Here are five reasons why.

17 Million Poor People Would Go Uninsured

One of the centerpieces of the law is the Medicaid expansion, through which states will receive a massive infusion of federal funds over the next couple of years to help fund health programs for low-income residents. Depending on a few factors, one of which we’ll address in a moment, the expansion has the potential to cover an additional 17 million low-income people by the year 2021.

A hitch in the plan: Republican governors. The Supreme Court ruled that governors can opt out of these funds if they so desire, and a couple of the usual suspects have decided to reject free federal money to help insure poor people, because hey, why not? Thankfully, a surprising number of GOP governors are bucking party orthodoxy and accepting the Medicaid expansion.

Women’s Preventive Services Would Become More Expensive

ObamaCare has a ton of provisions aimed at reducing the burden of health care costs for women — regardless of their income bracket. For example, it eliminates copays for various preventive health services—things like mammograms, cancer screenings, prenatal care, and even screenings for domestic violence —so you’ll no longer have to share the cost for well-woman visits.

Insurers are also required to provide contraceptives free of charge. Republicans attempted to make an issue out of this during the election last year, claiming that the provision would force religious employers to violate their faith. The Obama administration responded by shifting the burden of contraceptive costs in such situations to the insurance companies, as opposed to the employers. This new plan gained the support of the Catholic Health Association, and left Republicans searching for other ways to control women's sex lives.

It Would Blow Up The Deficit

Okay, maybe that’s a bit hyperbolic, but repealing ObamaCare certainly wouldn’t reduce the deficit, as some would have you believe. It’s true that the law has a lot of new subsidies, but that’s more than offset by new taxes and other revenue sources. The Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that in total, repealing the law would add around $109 billion to federal budget deficits between now and 2022. Which should make budget hawks like Paul Ryan fervently pro-ObamaCare, right?

Health Care Would Be More Expensive

Americans earning 400 percent or less of the poverty level will be eligible for subsidies under the new law. Taking into account that and other provisions in the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 6.4 million Americans will be eligible to pay $100 or less per month on health insurance through the exchanges, once the exchanges open. In the 25 states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion, an additional 12.4 million people who are currently uninsured will be eligible to pay the same rate — less than $100 a month, often much less — for health coverage.

Of course, the key word here is “eligible.” Not everyone who qualifies for a federal program actually enrolls in it; Matthew Buettgens of the Urban Institute estimates that in states with the best Medicaid outreach programs, only 60 percent of those eligible for the program are enrolled. Still, for the millions of Americans who do decide to enroll, health coverage for less than $100 a month is a big deal.

You Could Be Denied Coverage Because Of A Toothache

In promoting the Affordable Care Act, the White House frequently touts the provision that bans insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Specifically, the provision lists several metrics that insurance companies can no longer use to determine a prospective patient’s eligibility for a plan. These include health status, medical condition, medical history, genetic information, and more.

It’s good news for people like Bob Linde, an Army veteran who’s been denied health insurance for almost ten years due to respiratory, joint, and gastrointestinal discomfort he developed while serving in the Gulf War. The HHS estimates that at least 50 million Americans have conditions that, like Linde’s, could be considered pre-existing. But starting January 14th, insurance companies won’t be allowed to use this to hike up rates or deny coverage to prospective patients.