A Better Approach to the Affordable Care Act

October 7, 2013 Updated: October 7, 2013

The sabotage campaign that opponents of the Affordable Care Act are waging at the federal and state levels is not the approach we should take. A better approach is for lawmakers, irrespective of where they stood at the passage of the Affordable Care Act, to work together to make it work. A new USA Today/Pew Research Center poll released in September found that 51 percent of those who oppose the law want to see elected officials work together to make it work.

That is not to say that Democrats and Republicans are not coming together to find solutions to help make the law work. States with Republican governors and state legislatures have agreed to expand Medicaid, as in Arizona, or create a state-based exchange, as in Idaho.

As Republican Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who is working with the Obama administration to make sure health plans meet federal standards, said, “We’re just trying to do what’s best for our consumers. … If state regulators are not going to do anything, then consumers will be the ones who suffer.” And Colorado State Rep. Bob Gardner (R), who voted against the state creating its own marketplace, now says he has “become convinced” that it is the right thing to do and that the new exchange “is on a road to success.”

Reasons to Move Forward

First and foremost, the reason we should take this better approach is because the Affordable Care Act will provide access to health coverage to millions of Americans, some for the first time. It also provides better benefits and more protections by ending some of the worst insurer abuses, and it will lower costs.

Second, we need to recognize that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land and highly unlikely to be repealed at the federal level, given that President Barack Obama won re-election in 2012 and the makeup of the Senate. The Supreme Court has upheld its constitutionality. Repeated attempts to sabotage the law do not move us forward; they just ensure that we keep refighting the same political battles.

Lastly, there is a growing amount of evidence showing that the law is working as it was intended to, debunking the attacks that opponents continue to make. One of the fiercest attacks against the law is that it would increase premiums, but a new report shows that nearly 6 in 10 of the uninsured are expected to obtain coverage next year for less than $100. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that analyzed premiums for the 2014 marketplaces in states that have already released that information, premiums were lower or lower than expected. When federal tax credits are factored into the equation—something that many analyses conveniently forget to take into account—premiums were reduced even more.

The RAND Corporation released a study showing that these attacks are “overblown.” In fact, workers at firms with fewer than 100 employees are expected to pay 6 percent less in premiums in 2016 than they would have had “Obamacare” not been passed.

Where ACA Works

In states that are working to implement the Affordable Care Act successfully, the results show that the law is working:

• Minnesota, a state expanding Medicaid and running its own marketplace, released the lowest premium rates among all the states that have released their information.

• In New York, another state that has set up its own exchange and is expanding Medicaid, regulators have approved premium rates that are at least 50 percent lower than those currently available. With federal subsidies, the rates will be even lower.

• In Oregon and Maryland, state regulators forced insurers to lower premiums, and consumers can now save up to 30 percent in some cases.

Make no mistake: “Obamacare” is working to make health coverage more affordable for millions of Americans.

It makes sense why opponents want to wage this sabotage campaign: They see that the law can succeed when people work together to make it succeed. Indeed, there will be some bumps in the road as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, but the coming weeks are an important time to begin enrolling millions of Americans in these new health marketplaces. Our mindset should be on working together to fix these marketplaces and finding ways to improve the law, not on putting up obstacles that set the law up for failure and then cheering when something goes wrong for political gain. We would all be better off if we helped make the Affordable Care Act work.

Tony Carrk is the director of the Health Care War Room at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Center for American Progress. This material was first published by Center for American Progress Action Fund (www.americanprogressaction.org)

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Tony Carrk