As November midterms edge closer, the Obama administration is gearing up for a showdown. The major point of contention, as you might have guessed already, is going to be the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, which the Republicans have strongly contested since the inception of the act. A prime achievement of the administration, the Affordable Care Act has all the potential to drive the campaigning democrats, but at the same time, keep them on defense for criticism from the Republicans regarding certain aspects of the law.
Since the ACA is going to become an issue of debate among the two parties, the administration is working up a detailed plan that puts them in a commanding position and prepares them for the onslaught. In this three-part post, we are going to take a look at the areas of ACA where the administration is bracing its defenses, the areas which they are planning to capitalize by going on the offensive and the projected improvements they are planning to push for retaining the momentum they have attained in the last couple of months.
Preparing Defense against Republican Criticism of the Affordable Care Act
• The impact of the ACA on employment was one of the major qualms Republicans had over the implementation of the act. However, no matter how tall Republican claims were, Obamacare did not have any real effect on employment or unemployment. The only impact ACA had was that it gave people a choice to move out of jobs that they don’t really like, but were only staying due to health benefits. There was no job killing of 2.3 million positions, and neither did the employers lay off employees to reduce their health coverage costs. It was more of providing workers a choice to continue their employment, and nothing about job reduction.
• Ongoing implementation of ACA might actually result in an increase in the number of available jobs in the economy. This increase in employment can come through lower healthcare costs, which will ultimately provide people with disposable income that can go toward purchasing goods that can drive employment in other sectors.
• The administration will have to alleviate fears about inflated insurance rates in the future, risk of exposure of private health data, and top level control on individual healthcare decisions. Currently, a large number of Americans are troubled by these concerns, and the opposition is taking advantage of this discord. The administration will be showcasing the availability of larger health benefits at subsidized costs, and the better options available to people at cheaper rates.
• By now, the ‘death spiral’ Republicans had been talking about is sure to remain a myth. The law has enough healthy individuals to sustain it and is riding on positive future budget projections.
On the basis of above, the Obama administration has enough ammo to counter Republican fire on shortcomings and negative impacts of the ACA. On the offense, the administration is planning to showcase how opposition from Republicans has affected the law and impacted its potency to deliver even better results.
• The option to allow states to opt out of Medicaid expansion is one such area, which affected the impact of ACA. By allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, the Supreme Court effectively denied health coverage to 5 to 8 million people. To date, 26 states have opted out of Medicaid expansion and have rejected the complete federal funding on expansion costs and at least 90 percent funding in the future. The move has created a Medicaid gap for people falling between 100 to 133 percent of federal poverty line.
• Available data demonstrates that for states, which expanded Medicaid and complied with the ACA, the number of uninsured is drastically falling. Federal assistance is much greater in states that have expanded Medicaid, averaging at 68 percent, while states that decided not to expand Medicaid are at 44 percent.
• If the remaining states were to expand Medicaid, 71 percent of their uninsured will be eligible for federal assistance..
In our next part of this series, we will discuss how the administration is going to utilize the benefits and projected improvements to the law for further strengthening its stand.