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At Stake: What Repealing the Affordable Care Act Would Mean for Middle Class Families

More than three years ago, President Obama signed health reform – the Affordable Care Act – into law.  The law ensures hard-working, middle class families will get the security they deserve and protects Americans from the worst insurance company abuses.  In June 2012, the Supreme Court issued a clear and final ruling on this law.  The last thing Congress should do is refight old political battles and start over on health care by repealing the entire law and raising taxes on the middle class.  Right now, Congress needs to work together to focus on the economy and creating jobs. 

Already, the House of Representatives has voted almost 40 times to repeal this law.  Here is what’s at stake if Congressional Republicans succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act:

Coverage for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions
Tracy Wirtanen-DeBenedet, Wisconsin

Tracy’s 9-year-old son Sami was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to grow throughout the nervous system, including the brain.  Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Tracy and her family no longer have to worry about Sami being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition because the law makes it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions.  “We don’t want to have to spend our time worrying if we’re going to be thrown off insurance or if it’s going to be ‘capped off,’” she says.

  • Repeal Raises Taxes on 18 Million Middle-Class People: With the repeal of the law, 18 million middle-class people would be denied a tax credit averaging $4,000 each that would make it easier to purchase health insurance starting in 2014.  Additionally, small businesses would lose tax credits for health insurance for two million workers already provided by the Affordable Care Act.
  • 129 Million Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions Lose Security: Repeal of the health care law would mean up to 129 million Americans, including 17 million children, lose the security of knowing they cannot be denied coverage or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma, starting in 2014.
  • 25 Million Americans Will Not Gain Health Insurance: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean that marketplaces where Americans can compare private insurance policies would not open in 2014.  States would not be able to receive Federal funding to close Medicaid’s coverage gaps.  
  • 6.6 Million Young Adults Lose Coverage Through Parents’ Plans: 6.6 million young adults, including 3.1 million who were previously uninsured, would lose the option of staying on their parents’ health plans if the health care law were repealed.
  • 6.6 Million People with Medicare Pay $7 Billion More for Prescription Drugs: Repeal of the Affordable Care Act would end the 50 percent discount on brand name prescription drugs for seniors and people with disabilities who hit the donut hole. This discount saved 6.6 million seniors more than $7 billion since 2010.

Coverage for Young Adults Under 26
Abby Schanfield, Minnesota

Born with a rare congenital disease, Abby, a 20-year-old student at the University of Minnesota, has been able to stay on her parents’ health plan until she turns 26.  This provision of the health care law assures her that she’ll continue to get the care she needs, and that assurance relieves her of stress that could worsen her condition.  “There was a point before the Affordable Care Act was passed, I was very concerned about my future and whether I would be able to access care. … [With the health care law,] I have a world available to me,” she says.

  • 34.1 Million People with Medicare Pay More for Preventive Care: The repeal of Affordable Care Act would force 34.1 million seniors and people with disabilities to pay more for preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • 71 Million Americans Pay More for Preventive Care: Approximately 71 million Americans who gained private coverage for recommended preventive services without cost sharing would lose this benefit with the repeal of the health care law.
  • 105 Million Americans Could Regain Lifetime Limits on Health Insurance: Repeal of the law would allow insurance companies to return to placing a lifetime dollar limit on your care.  Before the law was implemented, 105 million Americans had health insurance with a lifetime dollar limit.
  • 15 Million Americans Could Be Dropped by Their Insurance Companies: Without the Affordable Care Act, the insurance industry could return to retroactively canceling coverage for a sick patient based on an unintentional mistake in their paperwork, putting at risk the nearly 15 million people purchasing coverage in the individual market.

Giving Seniors Peace of Mind and More Money in Their Pockets
Helen Rayon, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia grandmother Helen Rayon has been working the past six years at a local senior center as a health/wellness coordinator, arranging for health and fitness workshops and activities.  She knows they have the same issues she has had with the costs of staying healthy.  “If it weren’t for the health care reform, many of our seniors would not get to a doctor or get mammograms,” Helen says.  “It is expensive for us to keep good health.”

  • Millions of Consumers Could Lose More than $1.5 Billion in Rebates with the Repeal of the 80-20 Rule: Insurance companies that do not meet the 80-20 standard would no longer be required to provide their policyholders a rebate for the difference if the law were repealed. In 2012, 77.8 million consumers received $3.4 billion up front on their premiums as more insurance companies met the standard. And this year, 8.5 million consumers can expect a total of $500 million in rebates, with an average rebate of around $100 per family nationwide from insurance companies that did not meet the 80-20 standard in 2012.
  • Fewer Resources to Fight Fraud: The repeal of the health care law would strip out millions in new resources to fight health care fraud which, in FY 2012 alone, contributed to a record high $4.2 billion in taxpayer dollars recovered from individuals and companies that attempted to defraud seniors and taxpayers.  The law’s new tools to help detect and prevent fraud before it starts, including data-analysis techniques like credit card companies use, would also be lost.

Ending Lifetime Limits on Coverage
Judy Lamb, Colorado

Judy has been fighting breast cancer that has spread to her bones and liver and undergoing weekly chemotherapy.  In the past, Judy’s insurance company had a lifetime limit of 2 million dollars, and with her care costing anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000 a year, Judy had felt like the clock was ticking on her treatments.  But the health care law ended lifetime dollar caps on coverage, which means she can focus on staying well and living her life.  Judy says, “It’s bad enough that you have cancer, but then you have to worry about the insurance companies cutting you off.  I would die if I didn’t have insurance.”

  • Over $100 Billion in Higher Deficits: Repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit by $100 billion over ten years.  It would also shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years.

Posted on: July 10, 2012

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on July 29, 2013
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