The uninsured rate for people of all ages has dropped to lowest level on record—8.6 percent—in large part due historic coverage gains achieved by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148). The Obama Administration announced in addition to coverage gains, the law has reduced costs, inefficiencies, and put health care spending at a level $2.6 trillion lower than it was projected to be at this time without the ACA. In a separate announcement, Republican lawmakers dismissed the Administration’s praise for the law, calling President Obama a "Cheerleader-In-Chief." The Republican Lawmakers also promoted a policy that they call "A Better Way." The announcements came out ahead of the upcoming open enrollment period which runs from November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.
Progress. The Administration announcement pointed to slowed growth as a significant component of the ACA’s success. For example, the average premium for employer-sponsored family coverage in 2016 was nearly $3,600 lower than it would have been if premium growth since the ACA’s passage in 2010 had matched the average premium growth rate between 2000 and 2010. The quality of health care has also improved under the ACA. According to the administration, hospital-acquired conditions have fallen significantly since 2010, saving 87,000 lives and $20 billion in health care costs. Other highlights include the ACA’s prohibition on coverage denials for things like pre-existing conditions, the expansion of Medicaid to reach 4.4 million people, and plan disclosures that benefit 170 million Americans.
Goals. The Administration indicated that there is still work to be done, including the expansion of Medicaid in the remaining 19 states, further measures to reduce prescription drug costs, financial support for those struggling to pay for insurance, and measures to ensure that consumers have choices of health insurance issuers.
Better Way. Republicans lawmakers dispute much of the administration’s position, arguing, instead, that the ACA is an unaffordable failure. The Better Way put forth by Republican opponents of the ACA is a policy position which would repeal the ACA, while, allegedly increasing consumer choice, maintaining restrictions on coverage denials for pre-existing conditions, lifting taxes on medical devices, and bolstering support for Medicare. Republican lawmakers assert that their plan will lower premiums, increase access to doctors and providers, and produce greater medical productivity.
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