By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
More than three years ago, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld it. Millions of Americans have already benefited from its provisions, and millions more are looking forward to benefits that will soon go into effect. And in November, the American people re-elected the president as an affirmation of the law’s promise that no person should go broke if they get sick.
Yet today, for nearly the 40th time since it’s been the law of the land, House Republicans staged yet another repeal vote in their latest attempt to turn back the clock on progress and deny Americans health insurance coverage they can count on.
For the 37th time, Congress is voting to repeal the health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Learn what’s at stake for Americans if the law were repealed.
Here’s what Americans would lose if repeal actually happened:
- Repeal Decreases Access to Quality Care. The 6.6 million young people from South Carolina to Ohio to Utah who have gained coverage under their parents’ health plans up to age 26 would lose that option. Insurance companies in many states could return to the days of refusing coverage to 17 million children living with a pre-existing condition like diabetes or asthma. For the 129 million Americans across the country living with a pre-existing condition, repeal would take away the security of knowing that, beginning next year, their health coverage can’t be revoked or denied. Repeal would also eliminate the free, critical preventive vaccines, flu shots, contraception, mammograms, and other screenings that have already helped 71 million Americans stay healthy and active.
- Repeal Hurts Seniors and Undermines Medicare. For America’s seniors, from Florida to Oklahoma to Nevada, repeal would increase medical costs by hundreds of dollars a month at a time when they could least afford it. It would eliminate the discounts that have brought 6.1 million of them an average savings of $706 on their prescription drugs, enough to cover the cost of several months of groceries. Nearly 50 million Medicare beneficiaries from Virginia to Kentucky to Idaho would lose access to free, life-saving preventive care, including cancer screenings and annual wellness visits. And repeal would undo ambitious delivery reforms that have helped reduce projected Medicare spending by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next ten years.
- Repeal Raises Taxes on the Middle Class and Small Businesses, and Increases Our Deficit. Starting next year, 18 million middle-class families across the country the country would be denied access to a tax credit averaging $4,000 each that would make it easier to purchase health insurance. Small businesses from Pennsylvania to Louisiana would also lose access to tax credits that are already helping to provide coverage for 2 million American workers. And repeal would increase the deficit by $100 billion over the next ten years.
- Repeal Returns Unchecked Power to Insurance Companies. The law has slowed the growth of premium increases by doing away with the worst insurance company abuses. Nearly 13 million individuals and families have saved an average of $150 due to a new rule requiring more premium dollars to be spent on delivering actual care instead of on overhead costs and CEO salaries. Insurance companies must also now publicly justify all premium increases of 10 percent or more. Those two provisions alone have already produced more than $2 billion in rebates for millions of Americans who are privately insured. Repealing the law would return the power of unchecked premium increases back to insurance companies in states that haven’t set up their own protections.
- Repeals Denies Women Control Over Their Own Health Care. For American women in every corner of the country, repeal would bring us back to the days when simply being a woman was a pre-existing condition. Insurers would once again be able to charge women far more than men pay for the same health benefits.
By refighting old battles and reopening old wounds, repeal efforts would take away the peace of mind that affordable health insurance provides for the millions of Americans who can’t afford to go back to the way things were.
For the majority of Americans who already have insurance, the law makes it stronger. And for 25 million Americans who lack the security of health coverage, expanded Medicaid in many states and new Health Insurance Marketplaces opening for enrollment in every state this fall will finally give them access to coverage that fits their budget and meets their health needs.
Because of the law, we’re increasing access to affordable care, slowing premium increases, and bringing down health spending growth to its slowest rate in half a century. We’re making health insurance work for small businesses, and providing the strongest consumer protections in history.
We know our health care system’s problems weren’t created overnight, and they won’t be solved overnight. But Americans are far better off today than they would be without the health care law. And while we work to implement and strengthen the law, it’s clear we’re moving our health care system in the right direction. We simply can’t afford to turn back now.
About the Author
Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on April 28, 2009. As Secretary, she leads the principal agency charged with keeping Americans healthy, ensuring they get the health care they need, and providing children, families, and seniors with the essential human services they depend on. She also oversees one of the largest civilian departments in the federal government, with nearly 80,000 employees.
Since taking office, Secretary Sebelius has been a leader on some of the Obama administration’s top priorities. As the country’s highest-ranking health official, she played a key role in the passage of the historic Affordable Care Act and is now leading its implementation. She also coordinated the response to the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. And under her leadership, HHS has provided a wide range of services from health care to child care to energy assistance to help families weather the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Follow Sec. Kathleen Sebelius on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sebelius or @sebelius