In 2018, more than 1 million Americans lost health coverage, continuing a pattern of decline since 2017 when Trump Administration and Congress decreased the Affordable Care Act requirements and regulations. In 2017, 29.3 million Americans did not have coverage and in 2018 this number increased to 30.4 million Americans, while previously the number of uninsured Americans declined under Obamacare according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Last month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also reported a decline in health coverage among Americans. Daniel Derksen, a health policy expert at the University of Arizona, stated that he “doesn’t think [the coverage decline] is too shocking with efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the number of Americans without coverage decreased. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, removing the requirement that people must have health insurance or pay a fine. Americans have since turned to “skinny” health care packages that offer low prices in exchange for high deductibles that people cannot afford. The percentage of people under 65 with a high-deductible health plan increased in 2018 from 43.7% to 45.8%, an all-time high.
Congressional Republicans and President Trump have attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act since 2017. In September 2017, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal was introduced that would have kicked at least 32 million people off of health insurance, barred Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements, gutted the Essential Health Benefits that protect women’s access to reproductive healthcare and prescription drugs, and once again would have allowed insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
The bill would have also ended Medicaid as we know it by blocking granting funding instead of guaranteeing it while cutting hundreds of billions from the program. This proposal would kick millions of poor, disabled, and elderly people off of health insurance and leave millions more with inadequate coverage.
Advocates argue that demolishing Medicaid piece by piece is a dangerous and deadly proposition that disproportionately impacts women. One-in-five women of reproductive age rely on Medicaid and half of all births in the United States are paid for with Medicaid. Medicaid also pays for two-thirds of all nursing home patients, a vast majority of whom are women. In addition, 42 percent of all Medicaid spending benefits children and adults with disabilities.
Media Resources: USA Today 5/13/19; CDC 5/9/19; CBO 4/19; Feminist Newswire 7/20/17