GOP poised to kill the Affordable Care Act

Jamakaya, Contributing writer

Republicans in Congress are set to repeal the Affordable Care Act — possibly before the end of March. It’s not too late to let U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., know how you feel about his promise to vote for repeal.

Re-elected to a second term in November 2016, Johnson says he has a mandate to vote against the ACA. Although he has no immediate fears of being voted out of office, he clearly fears facing his constituents, refusing to hold any town halls during the recent congressional break.

The New York Times reports right-wing organizations, including those funded by the billionaire Koch brothers, are spending millions to demand Republicans follow through on their vow to repeal Obamacare. Among the efforts are a national rally for repeal and ads featuring people who say they have been harmed by the ACA.

I heartily support the ACA. So do my friends. For some of us, it’s been a life saver.

I left a job a year ago to take care of my elderly mother. I used the COBRA law to continue my employer’s group insurance coverage, although I had to pay the full — and pricey — monthly premiums myself.

Since mom died, I have been unable to land another job with insurance coverage. Because of my reduced income, I found an insurance plan on the ACA marketplace that met my needs. I got a subsidy that covers about half of the monthly premium. Thank you, Obamacare!

The ACA helped my friend Susan in a different way. Susan is a teacher who has a college-age daughter with chronic health problems. The ACA enabled Susan to keep her daughter on her insurance policy until she graduated and found a job with health insurance benefits.

When I think back on the long debate over the ACA and the many compromises that were made to win congressional approval (like stripping it of a pubic insurance option and drug price controls), it’s frustrating to see the GOP majority preparing to destroy it. Nothing they propose will retain affordable health care for the 20–22 million people helped by the ACA.

The GOP wants to replace the subsidies and tax credits graduated according to individuals’ income with a standard tax credit or deduction for everyone, tiered only by age. If it is called a deduction rather than a credit, only those who itemize their deductions will be eligible. Most poor and middle-class people do not itemize deductions.

The GOP plans to eliminate taxes and fees that subsidized the ACA, undermining it financially. These include the penalty for individuals who do not buy insurance and employers who do not provide it; fees from health insurance and pharmaceutical companies; and taxes on medical device makers.

The GOP plan will cut billions in Medicaid payments to the states, jeopardizing care for 12 million people who gained Medicaid coverage under the ACA and potentially turning Medicaid into a block-grant program. The GOP promises to retain the mandate for coverage of pre-existing conditions, but without cost controls that could be meaningless.

We may lose the battle for the ACA, but it is a cause worth fighting for!

Make the call

To reach U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, call 202-228-6965 or 920-230-7262.