March 28, 2022
Seniors Celebrate Affordable Care Act’s 12th Anniversary
As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) celebrated its twelfth anniversary Wednesday, a number of changes could reshape the program for the future. These include making premium reductions permanent, filling in the Medicaid gap and preventing a drop in Medicaid enrollment.
The ACA has been strengthened since its inception. The American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief bill that President Biden signed into law last March, ramped up the financial assistance available to people buying coverage on their own through HealthCare.gov or state-run exchanges.
That boost made a big difference, often reducing premiums by thousands of dollars a year. However, the extra financial help ends at the end of this year, when premiums will go back up for millions of consumers unless Congress makes the increase permanent or extends it.
A dozen states, including Florida and Texas, still haven’t expanded Medicaid to cover all low-income residents, as the Affordable Care Act originally envisioned — refusing to accept federal funds that were available for that purpose.
Biden and the Democrats have discussed having the federal government insure those people directly through federal action. According to several estimates, more than 2 million Americans would become eligible for Medicaid as a result.
“Thanks to the ACA, over 130 million people have gained protection from discrimination against pre-existing conditions and no longer have to worry about arbitrary caps or limits on coverage,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “Another 30 million people have coverage under the ACA through either private health insurance or Medicaid.”
He added, “Coverage for pre-existing conditions and free preventive care have been tremendously important for older Americans. In addition, the ACA closed the Part D doughnut hole coverage gap, which forced millions of seniors to pay 100% out of pocket for their prescription drugs for many years. As the 13th year of this landmark law begins, there is a lot to build on.”