Time will tell whether the Supreme Court intends to take a sledgehammer to the Affordable Care Act, but let’s be clear: if the Republican justices gut the law, they’ll undermine a law that’s working quite well.
The uninsured rate among U.S. adults for the fourth quarter of 2014 averaged 12.9%. This is down slightly from 13.4% in the third quarter of 2014 and down significantly from 17.1% a year ago. The uninsured rate has dropped 4.2 percentage points since the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for Americans to have health insurance went into effect one year ago.The uninsured rate declined sharply in the first and second quarters last year as more Americans signed up for health insurance through federal and state exchanges…. While the uninsured rate has declined across nearly all key demographic groups since the Affordable Care Act went into effect a year ago, it has plunged most among blacks and lower-income Americans. The uninsured rate among blacks dropped seven points over the past year, while the rate among Americans earning less than $36,000 in annual household income dropped 6.9 points.
That last point is of particular interest. As Greg Sargent noted this morning, many of those lower-income households benefit from insurance subsidies through “Obamacare” – and these are the subsidies Republicans are desperate to eliminate through the King v. Burwell case at the Supreme Court.
In other words, the very people who need the most support are the people benefiting most from the improved system. They’re also the families who’ll suffer most if the Republican court case succeeds.
Gallup’s analysis added, “The Affordable Care Act has accomplished one of its goals: increasing the percentage of Americans who have health insurance coverage.” That’s undeniably true, though it’s not the only recent ACA accomplishment.
As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, the sharp improvement in the uninsured rate comes against the backdrop of a strong open-enrollment period and a whole host of related reports, including encouraging data on premiums, customer satisfaction rates, the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years, the growing number of insurers who want to participate in exchange marketplaces, high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums, the efficacy of Medicaid expansion, the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio, and reduced medical errors system-wide.
To deny the recent successes of the Affordable Care Act is to bury one’s head in the sand.
Update: House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) argued this morning that the Affordable Care Act is “beyond repair.” Under the circumstances, the right-wing congressman is (a) wildly uninformed about current events; (b) trying to deceive the public; or (c) thinking of some different law called the Affordable Care Act.