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Casualties Of An ACA Fast Repeal

The Record (NorthJersey.com) — February 22, 2017

Editorial

The Affordable Care Act is a sweeping paradigm shift in how we, as a nation, see health care. It is as radical as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were when they were created.

The ACA, or Obamacare, is not perfect. There are problems with rising premiums, high deductibles and insurance companies' leaving the exchanges. But more than 20 million people nationwide, including at least 800,000 in New Jersey, have obtained insurance through either ACA health exchanges or an expanded Medicaid program. That's reason to improve the law, not do away with it

So, it is not surprising that Republicans' long-sought goal of repealing the ACA is not going smoothly. There are reports of an alternative proposal emerging from the House, but many hurdles remain, including needed support in the Senate and from the White House.

In the meantime, the law enacted almost seven years ago remains in place and is becoming more popular. The threat of Republicans simply eliminating the ACA has driven home the many popular parts of the law, including allowing parents to keep adult children on family policies until age 26 and forcing insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions.

ACA supporters opposing repeal have confronted, at times loudly, GOP lawmakers at public meetings throughout the country. With lawmakers in their districts this week because Congress is in recess, many at town-hall-type meetings are likely to hear more support for repairing the ACA.

Unfortunately, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon, is the only GOP House member from New Jersey holding such an in-person meeting.

"We're asking our Republican (House) members to please pause and not repeal," says Maura Collinsgru, health care program director for New Jersey Citizen Action.

And this week, New Jersey Policy Perspective, a progressive think tank, released a report detailing how a repeal of ACA would hurt New Jersey through the loss of $4.2 billion in federal funding, mostly from scaling back Medicaid.

The report said a repeal would particularly hurt seniors who rely on Medicare. One of the not always well-publicized benefits of the ACA has been gradually eliminating the gap, the so-called doughnut hole, in Medicare prescription drug coverage. While the gap has existed for years, this is the first attempt to eliminate it.

New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates that not fully closing the doughnut hole would affect more than 200,000 seniors and increase yearly prescription costs by about $1,240 per person.

No Republican supported the ACA when it was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Barack Obama in March 2010. The ACA has drawn strident criticism from Republicans since its inception.

Now that Republicans control Congress and the White House, they have a chance to kill it. But they are seeing that it's not easy to just do away with complex legislation, particularly when millions of Americans are experiencing the benefits of having health insurance.

Improve the ACA. Do not repeal it. This is about health care, not politics

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