With a coordinated strategy to show how most Republican claims about the ACA were wrong and how opposition is preventing the law from delivering the best, Obama administration has its first steps clearly outlined for the upcoming midterms. The only remaining part of the strategy is to show the country how Americans are benefiting from the presence of the ACA and how some improvements can accelerate the law into delivering better healthcare to a wider audience. In this second part of the series, we are going to cover the benefits ACA is already providing.
Demonstrating the ACA induced Positive Effect on US Healthcare
• The biggest claim that the administration has is the 8 million enrollments achieved in the first open enrollment period.
• The ACA has also covered 2.37 million young individuals under extension of their parents’ health plans. Had these plans not covered them under extension, we would have had 1.87 more uninsured people.
• Another major win of ACA is the access of healthcare coverage at cheaper rates to people with preexisting medical conditions.
• The administration plans to show that their system allows people to move out of traditional employer-provided health insurance.
• Through a coordinated push on Medicaid expansion, the administration has been able to deliver health benefits for people up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line.
• The doughnut hole principle has been at the helm of too many problems for seniors who are not able to afford their prescription drugs. Due to the ACA, senior citizens have saved about 42 million and expect to be completely free from this coverage hole by 2020.
• Through wellness programs, illness prevention measures and changes to payment systems, the administration has implemented various cost containment plans through the Affordable Care Act. These provisions have improved the cost of healthcare and will continue doing so in the coming years. As a result, the complete impact on the healthcare costs of the nation will be positive and will play out in the near future.
However, even after all these achievements, Obama administration still has a long way to go in improving the healthcare system through ACA. In the coming midterms, the following improvement measures will be key to the administration’s strategy to build more traction behind the law and drive it to the next level.
• Although we are making good progress, there still are nearly 80 million Americans who are either uninsured or not adequately insured. The Medicaid expansion might contribute in some ways to this number, but the administration is planning ways to bring this number down.
• Technical challenges still seem to plague the law and several applications are still not fully processed. The administration is promising quick improvements in this area, and with the upcoming SHOP exchange and several states choosing new providers to salvage their state exchange, efforts are already under way.
• The administration is planning tighter regulation on health plans, nationwide abolishment of monopoly on health insurance, and a replacement for our medical reimbursement system to bring rising healthcare costs under control. Without these measures, the ACA might not be sufficient to lower perennially rising healthcare system costs. If not checked, these costs would ultimately trickle down onto consumers.
• Through outreach and more community specific events, the administration wants to get rid of the phobia surrounding Obamacare. There is still some opposition toward the law in specific communities and clearing that out is slowly becoming a top priority for the administration to maximize the effect of ACA.
However, even after all the achievements and suggested improvements, there still is a small yet crucial gap to fill in the administration’s strategy for the midterms – the elusive Republican alternative to ACA. The opposition has been playing at it for quite some time now, and the administration definitely has a final arrow in the quiver to take care of any attempt from the administration to push an alternative. In our third and final part of this series, we are going to see how the administration plans to counter Republican suggestions of replacing the ACA with an alternative.