For all the gnashing of teeth to which we’re often treated regarding the Affordable Care Act, sometimes it’s nice to look at some actual numbers and find that, hey, turns out it’s actually been pretty effective.
From the Columbus Dispatch:
With President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans planning to repeal Obamacare, Gov. John Kasich’s administration released a report Friday saying that Ohio’s 2014 Medicaid expansion has improved the health and reduced financial hardships for hundreds of thousands of poor Ohioans.
The analysis, requested by the General Assembly, found that among the 702,000 who gained coverage as of May 2016:
• 75 percent were uninsured before becoming eligible for Medicaid
• More than 1 in 4 has been diagnosed with at least one chronic condition, most commonly high blood pressure or high cholesterol, and including 2 percent with cancer
• About a third suffered from depression and anxiety disorders
• 32 percent were diagnosed with substance abuse or dependence
Granted, for one to be impressed by these numbers one must have a modicum of the spirit for commonwealth, goodwill toward man and whatnot. Of course, our new U.S. Congress in 2017 will set about shortly to undo all of the progress we’ve made.
Their plan is to repeal first and replace later. This, because, natch, they have shit all with which to replace it.
As I’ve mentioned in this space before, Trump’s selection of U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, as Secretary of Health and Human Services represents the worst kind of news: A completely uncertain and volatile medical future.
Price, an orthopedic surgeon from the suburbs of Atlanta, has been a leading opponent of the Affordable Care Act, peddling his replacement proposal – the Empowering Patients First Act – in recent budgets.
And what is the Empowering Patients First Act? A hodgepodge of warmed-over Republican “free market” leftovers that will hurt millions of people in the interest of insurance companies’ bottom lines. This includes voucherizing Medicare, block-granting Medicaid and installing high-deductible Healthcare Savings Accounts as the beau ideal for the individual market.
In short, they will rip away health insurance from millions of people by creating a system that prices individuals out of good, affordable insurance and cuts benefits for the old and the poor.
They will reestablish “mini-med” insurance plans that provide people token coverage and leave them bankrupt in the case of medical catastrophe.
And of course, the icing on the cake: Their plan literally budgets for taking health insurance away from millions of people by re-establishing “disproportionate share hospital” payments for uninsured people who have to go to the emergency room for the medical needs. These payments were slated to be phased out under the ACA because people were getting insurance.
Selah. Happy New Year. The pain is on its way.
D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive’s RouteFifty.com, the National Journal’s The Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.