For now, the ACA lives on. But destruction of the program — even without legislation — can still be inflicted. Here’s how the Trump administration can mortally wound healthcare reform:
I believe there’s a reason all the Democrats and four out of five of the Republicans in the New Jersey delegation were ready to vote against the Trump administration’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). That plan would have allowed the sale of plans that cherry-pick the younger and healthier — a back door way to allow insurers to price insurance based on gender and pre-existing conditions.
In New Jersey, we did not allow this kind of coverage even before the ACA. We all lose if only younger people or men or the healthiest among us can obtain affordable insurance. We all lose if people skip screenings for curable cancers or don’t receive the prenatal care crucial to healthier pregnancies and babies. We all lose if women fail to refill birth control prescriptions that reduce unplanned pregnancies, or if people avoid treatment for substance abuse. Luckily the AHCA, which proposed nothing to improve healthcare delivery or reduce costs of care, was pulled from consideration. But the move to repeal the ACA is continuing.
Most people in New Jersey do not want to see the 750,000 newly insured people in our state suddenly lose their coverage. What would happen to the breast cancer patient halfway through her chemotherapy? Or the teenager with Type 1 diabetes who needs insulin shots to survive?
In New Jersey, we have a history of protecting consumers with pre-existing conditions and limiting the ability of insurers to insure only the healthiest people. We found a way to expand coverage and use funds to help more people obtain health insurance.
As we follow the changes in Washington we also must begin, now, to work on state solutions. I do not suggest the answers are easy. But already the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, along with political leaders on both sides of the aisle, is working to find sensible solutions. We have no time to waste.