With a 51-48 vote earlier this month, Senate Republicans took the first step in repealing former President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, despite having no replacement plan ready to implement.
Without a suitable replacement plan in place, millions of Virginians may soon experience complications with their health care coverage, and hundreds of thousands may find themselves uninsured.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), or ObamaCare, was signed into law by former President Obama in 2010 after narrowly passing the House’s approval. Since then, the Act has offered affordable, quality insurance to millions of previously uninsured citizens. In addition, the law successfully mandated that insurers offer new protections and rights for all Americans, such as guaranteed coverage despite pre-existing conditions and an end to gender rating, which is the act of charging females higher rates solely based on gender.
In Virginia alone, the ACA has offered millions better quality coverage, and has granted 327,000 other previously uninsured Virginians affordable coverage.
Though many Virginians, as well as millions of other Americans, have greatly benefited from the new provisions and services, the Act also has a number of weaknesses.
The largest complaint lodged against the ACA is the ever-increasing premium rates; in 2017, premiums for mid-level plans rose by 25%. These increases are a result of insurers underpricing plans and overestimating the number of young, healthy citizens that would purchase them, which, in turn, forced several insurance companies out of the market and drove up the prices of those that remain.
Tax filing complications, a more complicated coverage-shopping process and a pricey fee for those who choose to go without coverage are other serious drawbacks to the ACA.
As evidenced by the win of ACA-opponent Donald Trump in the recent presidential election, these drawbacks proved too overwhelming for much of the nation.
Despite previously promising his constituents that he would repeal and replace the ACA simultaneously, Trump, now in office, has yet to offer a viable replacement plan, even as Congress moves forward with the repeal. Should the Republican controlled Senate and House successfully defund and repeal the ACA before a new plan can be put in place, the effects will surely be felt throughout Virginia and the nation.