When it comes to the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have done just about everything humanly possible to sabotage the law, even before it was fully implemented. All they’ve done for the last several years is try to paint this Armageddon-like picture of what would happen once “Obamacare” really started rolling out. More specifically, once the individual mandate kicked in.
I’ve even seen some conservatives say that “Obamacare” is tantamount to slavery and others claim that it’s the biggest travesty to be forced onto the American people.
Well, several different surveys were released detailing the change in uninsured Americans from last year as the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate kicked in and the marketplaces (both state and federal) launched.
And what do they have in common? Well, every single one of them shows the rate of uninsured fell from the same period last year.
- Gallup: 13.4% down from 17.1%
- Urban Institute: 13.9% down from 17.4%
- Commonwealth Fund: 15% down from 20%
And the Commonwealth Fund survey found an even steeper drop for Americans aged 19-34, down to 18% from 28% in 2013. You know, the “younger Americans” Republicans said wouldn’t sign up for health insurance.
In total, 8 million signed up for “Obamacare” through the exchanges with another 6 million gaining health care through expansions in Medicaid. For the mathematically challenged, that’s 14 million Americans. And that’s not even counting the millions of Americans who were allowed to maintain health insurance thanks to provisions that allow them to stay on their parents’ plans longer.
But the one thing in these numbers I found most interesting, and troubling, was the uninsured rate among Americans living in poverty who gained access to health care due to Medicaid expansion.
For people living in poverty in the 25 states and the District of Columbia that chose to expand Medicaid, they saw a drop in the uninsured rate from 28% down to 17%. Great, right?
For poor people living in those states, absolutely.
But what about the states that chose not to expand Medicaid? You know, most of the states that are controlled by Republicans. Well, it just so happens that their uninsured rate for people living in poverty fell by exactly – zero. It stayed steady at 36%.
Amazing isn’t it?
Republicans went on and on about how “Obamacare” caused around 5 million people to change their health insurance plans, “threatening the health of these Americans.” Yet how many millions of Americans are unable to get the medical care they desperately need, putting their lives at risk, all because many Republican state legislatures decided to play partisan politics when it came to the Affordable Care Act?
It’s sure a heck of a lot more than 5 million.
And no, “just go to the ER” does not constitute a damn health care “plan.”
I just find it appalling how Republicans used a small percentage of Americans having to change health care plans (due to their insurance companies canceling their plans by the way) to perpetuate this idea that millions of Americans lives were now at risk due to losing health coverage. Yet far more Americans, the most vulnerable among us, are flat-out unable to gain access to health care because Republicans simply wouldn’t allow it.
To give you an idea of what qualifying for Medicaid means for someone living in one of these states that chose not to expand it, let’s look at where I live: Texas.
In Texas, a childless non-disabled adult doesn’t qualify for Medicaid – at all. Period. End of story.
A parent with two children only qualifies if they make less than $3,737 a year. Or about $311.42 per month.
I would elaborate on just how absurd those qualifications are, but I think they speak for themselves.
So excuse me if I laugh at Republicans who pretend to be outraged because a few Americans had to switch their health insurance plans. Especially when their blatant obstruction is the reason why tens of millions of Americans’ lives are at risk because they weren’t able to gain health insurance – because Republicans refused to expand Medicaid.
And that’s exactly what these survey results prove. That not only did “Obamacare” drastically reduce the rate of uninsured Americans, but that Republican obstruction in many states is the reason why the lives of tens of millions of Americans continue to be at risk.