by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
At about one o'clock in the morning on January 12, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) withdrew his amendment that would have pushed the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) back to the beginning of March. The move indicates that the Republican majority is not afraid of the backlash that will come when people lose their health care, and that they do not realize that repealing the ACA without a viable replacement will cause actual chaos.
These are scary times, and President-elect Donald Trump hasn't even been sworn in yet.
The Republican congressional majorities want Obamacare dead because of their belief that health insurance is not the job of government. Plus, let's be honest: a majority of them just plain hate Obama, anything he has ever done, anything he wanted to do, and certainly any major legislation he was able get passed and then sign into law.
The New York Times wrote, 'The final vote, which ended just before 1:30 a.m., followed a marathon session in which senators took back-to-back roll call votes on numerous amendments, an arduous exercise known as a vote-a-rama. The approval of the budget blueprint, coming even before President-elect Donald J. Trump is inaugurated, shows the speed with which Republican leaders are moving to fulfill their promise to repeal President Obama's signature domestic policy achievement - a goal they believe can now be accomplished after Mr. Trump's election. The action by the Senate is essentially procedural, setting the stage for a special kind of legislation called a reconciliation bill. Such a bill can be used to repeal significant parts of the health law and, critically, is immune from being filibustered. Congress appears to be at least weeks away from voting on legislation repealing the law.'
Republican leaders are saying they will work closely with Trump to develop legislation to repeal and replace the health care law. But there's just one problem with that. At this point it is unclear exactly how his team will participate in that effort at all.
In short, the GOP has made it its mission to repeal Obamacare and replace it with absolutely nothing. Obamacare has helped as many as 20 million people get new health insurance, and more than 4% of all Americans got health insurance for the first time because of the law.
So how will Washingtonians be impacted by a repeal of the ACA? More specifically, how will LGBTQ Washingtonians be impacted by such a terrible thing? Greatly.
The ten essential health benefit categories of Obamacare are outpatient care, emergency care, hospitalization, maternity and newborn care, mental health services and addiction treatment, prescription drugs, rehabilitative services and devices, lab services, pediatric dental and vision, and free preventive services.
LGBTQ people, like many Americans, use all of the benefits in all of those categories. Of particular note, Seattle Counseling Service (SCS) accepts Obamacare insurance to help folks with mental health services and addiction treatment. Maternity and newborn care services are certainly accessed by community members. Are you on PrEP? Chances are you are getting it because of Obamacare - and chances are that will stop.
According to Obamacarefacts.com, over 100 million Americans have benefited from the health care law. 'This includes more than 105 million people who accessed critical preventive services for free that had previously been subject to out-of-pocket costs. Seniors saved billions of dollars from the gradual closing of the Medicare Part D 'donut hole.' Billions more were saved from new accountability measures for insurance companies - and that isn't even the end of the savings from the ACA.
'...The fact is, Obamacare gives 47 million women access to preventive health services and makes it illegal to charge women different rates than men.
'Up to 82% of nearly 16 million uninsured young US adults qualify for cost assistance or Medicaid through Obamacare's marketplaces. The number of young people who sign up for insurance will greatly impact the effectiveness of the program, as healthy young adults are the least likely to use costly health care services.
'1 in 2 Americans have a 'pre-existing' condition that they could have been denied health insurance for. Obamacare chipped away at pre-existing conditions until 2014, so pre-existing conditions are no longer a barrier to insurance coverage for anyone, including high-risk customers. This means you can no longer be denied coverage or treatment or be charged more due to your health status.
'54 million Americans with private health insurance now have access to preventive services with no cost sharing because of the new minimum standards of Obamacare.
'Obamacare doesn't ration health care. It protects consumers from the health care coverage and cost-based rationing that insurance companies have been doing for decades.
'Obamacare reduces the growth in health care spending. The current $2.8 trillion US health care system costs almost $9k a year for every man, woman, and child.
'...Before Obamacare's first open enrollment period, 15% of Americans were uninsured - this is a little less than 50 million men, women, and children. Before the ACA, about 38 million Americans had inadequate health insurance.
'Studies have shown that anywhere from 20,000 to 44,000 Americans died each year from lack of health insurance.
'Given the above, before the Affordable Care Act, nearly one-third of Americans faced each day without the security of knowing that affordable medical care was available to them and their families.
'An April 2014 Gallup poll showed the uninsured rate dropped to 13.4%, the lowest in decades, during the open enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces.'
And the Republicans are doing all they can, as quickly as they can, to repeal this law and replace it with - nothing. If Obamacare is repealed, tens of millions of Americans will be without good health coverage, and insurance companies will continue to be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Without health care reform, America will suffer the consequences of a health care system controlled by private, for-profit companies whose bottom line is money and not health.
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