DO NOT REPEAL THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT- AN OPEN LETTER (2/10/17)
The Cincinnati Medical Association (CMA) is the local chapter of the National Medical Association (NMA). The CMA was founded in 1925 and represents the interests of patients cared for by over a hundred primary care and specialist physicians of the Greater Cincinnati area. In keeping with the tenets of our parent organization, we are “the collective voice of African American physicians and the leading force for parity and justice in medicine and the elimination of disparities in health”.
We are writing this letter in support of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly referred to as the ACA or Obamacare). The 115th US Congress and current President are on record advocating “repeal” of this Law which was signed in 2010.
We see, every day, the many benefits that this legislation has provided for our patients. Across the nation 11.5 million Americans are covered in the ACA marketplace, over half of these (6.3 million) in Republican congressional districts. Additionally, ACA associated Medicaid expansion has occurred in 32 states (16 with Republican Governors). This increase in access is beneficial for patient continuity of care as well as lessening the burden on our emergency rooms.
The preventive services mandates of the ACA have proven to be a substantial benefit to ALL Americans. Every insurer must provide coverage, with no copay, for 15 preventive services for adults; 22 preventive services for women; and 26 preventive services for children.
The ACA eliminated the pre-existing conditions exclusion policy that made 52 million adults under the age of 65 uninsurable.
The ACA eliminated gender discrimination in healthcare plans. Women paid up to a $1 billion more in premiums per year in the private individual health insurance market compared to men before Obamacare. Our view is that women should not face ANY discrimination.
As providers, we have seen the tremendous benefit of adult children under the age of 26 being able to be covered by their parents’ insurance.
Before the ACA, insurance companies placed a maximum on the amount that they would pay for an individual patient, referred to as “a lifetime limit”. The ACA eliminated this insurance company practice which had resulted in some patients becoming financially ruined when they were afflicted with a catastrophic disease or injury.
Additionally, the ACA favored patients over insurance companies by ending arbitrary withdrawals of coverage, guaranteeing the right to appeal, improving the quality of healthcare insurance plans, mandating a specific high percentage of insurance company spending be on health services vs administrative costs, and lastly the ACA provides for premium increase review.
The ACA provides a huge benefit to our senior citizens because it not only lessens the copays for prescription drugs while Medicare beneficiaries are in the ”donut hole”, but also works toward closing the “donut hole”.
So repealing the ACA (Obamacare) would take all of these benefits away from all patients, including those whom we are privileged to provide care. The repeal bill (H.R. 3762) currently under consideration by Congress would increase the number of uninsured by 18 million people, according to the Congressional Budget Office, in year one after enactment. If this repeal is adopted, the number of uninsured is projected to rise to 32 million by 2026.
As healthcare providers, we implore our lawmakers to finally cooperate in fixing, but not repealing, the ACA. The consternation that they are experiencing as they finally tackle this seven year old law is a testament to the benefits that, even they know, have re-downed from the ACA. Our patients and the United States citizenry deserve that our elected federal representatives finally put the health of Americans above politics.
The Cincinnati Medical Association
Roosevelt Walker, MD