We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.
No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis. When the court hears this case, there will likely be no vaccine and no viable treatment for the virus. When millions of Americans have already lost health insurance due to the pandemic, it’s absurd that President Trump is arguing in court that 20 million more Americans should lose their health care. And when millions of Americans who contract the coronavirus join the 135 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, President Trump will also be arguing in court to allow insurance companies to deny them coverage or charge them more. The submission of these briefs from Republican states will put the Trump administration’s politically-motivated lawsuit on full display for the American people in front of the highest court.
Days of Action: Day 3 of 12 focuses on seniors’ health. To learn more about our Days of Action, visit our website.
What’s At Stake: Key Protections For Seniors
The Affordable Care Act ensures critical protections for seniors and older adults nationwide. Between lowering prescription drug costs and limiting the amount insurers can charge, the ACA expanded access to health care for individuals aged 50 and older.
Health care coverage for seniors is particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Older adults and seniors face unique risks as the country grapples with this health care crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the groups “at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19” are people 65 years and older and individuals who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. More than 100,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, with an estimated 80 percent of deaths among those over the age of 65. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country have experienced a surge in outbreaks, with about 40 percent of deaths associated with these facilities.
The ACA made significant improvements in health care access for seniors:
AARP: Before ACA’s Protections, Discrimination Against Those With Pre-Existing Conditions, Age Rating, And Annual And Lifetime Caps Made Accessing Health Care Out Of Reach For Older Adults. [AARP, 6/14/18]
Medicaid Expansion Saved The Lives Of At Least 19,200 Older Adults. A report by the Center On Budget And Policy Priorities found that “The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults is preventing thousands of premature deaths each year, a landmark study finds. It saved the lives of at least 19,200 adults aged 55 to 64 over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017. Conversely, 15,600 older adults died prematurely because of state decisions not to expand Medicaid.” [Center On Budget And Policy Priorities, 11/6/19]
Seniors stand to lose if the ACA is overturned. If the ACA is struck down in court:
32 Million Older Adults With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Lose Protections. According to the Center for American Progress, nearly 32 million people aged 55-64 have pre-existing conditions.
People Over The Age of 50 Will Face A $4,000 “Age Tax.” Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, insurance companies can charge people over 50 more than younger people. The Affordable Care Act limited the amount older people could be charged to three times more than younger people. If insurers were to charge five times more, as was proposed in the Republican repeal bills, that would add an average “age tax” of $4,124 for a 60-year-old in the individual market, according to the AARP.
Seniors Will Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole got reopened. From 2010 to 2016, “More than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary,” according to a January 2017 Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services report.
Seniors Will No Longer Be Guaranteed Free Preventive Services And Annual Check-Ups. 60 million people with Medicare have access to free preventive services because of the Affordable Care Act.
Seniors Could Once Again See Less Coordinated Care. Provisions in the ACA encouraged groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers to come together to provide coordinated high-quality care to the Medicare patients they serve. In fact, 8.9 million Medicare beneficiaries are now benefiting from higher quality, more coordinated care.