A Thousand Little Cuts to the Affordable Care Act


Since last year, Congress and the Administration repeatedly promised to protect health care coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. The ACA prohibits insurance companies from turning away people with pre-existing conditions and cutting people off when they get sick. But that could all change.

Several steps have been taken to slowly reduce access to health insurance coverage for millions of Americans with chronic diseases and disabilities.

In July, the Administration finalized a U.S. Department of Labor rule that expands the use of association health plans. The rule allows associations to sell health plans with fewer consumer protections – putting patients with pre-existing conditions at a much greater risk and raising costs for the comprehensive coverage they need. Read our statement: https://bit.ly/2K4qEXy

Also in July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services slashed federal funding by $26 million for “navigator” programs. Navigators are non-profit groups that assist Americans with buying health insurance during the annual ACA enrollment periods. Fewer navigators leave Americans without guidance to make informed decisions about which health insurance plans best fit their needs.

In August, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services finalized the short-term plan ruling. This allows insurers to sell inadequate insurance plans for a year, with an option for consumers to renew them. This takes people with chronic conditions and disabilities back to the days of unaffordable plans and even coverage denials.

Currently, a federal judge in Texas is weighing arguments in a court case brought by Attorneys General from 20 states. The argument for this case claims that the pre-existing condition protections in the ACA are unconstitutional, since the individual mandate has been repealed. Worse, the Department of Justice has agreed with this argument and have decided not to defend these important protections. This irresponsible decision fails patients with chronic diseases and disabilities and denies protection for people with pre-existing conditions, who need coverage the most. Read our statement: https://bit.ly/2sWTWNj

As a result of all of these actions, President Trump has declared that “Obamacare is finished. It’s dead. It’s gone. You shouldn’t even mention it. It’s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.” However, this statement is false. Millions have health insurance through the ACA marketplace. And the marketplace will be back for open enrollment this fall, despite repeated efforts to undermine the law.

The last thing people with pre-existing conditions need is to be surprised that their insurance plan doesn’t cover the treatments they need. All patients deserve access to quality, affordable health care. Congress’ efforts to repeal and replace the ACA failed. Now, the administration is trying to chip away at health care piece by piece. They’re not stopping … But neither are we.

Follow #DefendPreEx and #ProtectPatientsNow on Twitter for more from patient advocates.