The Pandemic Case for the Affordable Care Act

Health Care
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New Orleans       There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but bizarrely the Trump administration recently marched into court to once again challenge the legal standing of the Affordable Care Act.  Perhaps someone in the campaign wasn’t sure that former Vice President Joe Biden had enough issues already to make his case, so they wanted to remind him that his work with the Affordable Care Act was still a straight arrow to the heart and health of America ready in his quiver to bleed out the president.

The numbers are no friend to the administration.  In fact, the latest reports seem to indicate that they may be trying to sweep the pandemic surges under the rug by having hospitals drop reporting to the Center for Disease Control and instead cycle them over to a private contractor.  The one set of numbers they can’t really hide are those that indicate the numbers of people who are losing healthcare in the middle of the pandemic.  Job and employer-based insurance doesn’t travel well to the unemployment line.  5.4 million Americans lost health insurance in four months because of job losses, shattering a record according to Families USA.  Kaiser estimates the number is 27 million, counting family members as well.  That’s a lot of Americans who are now facing huge risks with no safety net.

As the virus surges in the South and the West, it is hard not to note that it is in these two regions where redder states have not expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for largely ideological reasons, leaving jobless victims without health care in double jeopardy. And, why?  The most common rationale was fear over future costs as the government’s initially generous shouldering of the cost ebbs.  Turns out that doesn’t hold any water.  Two Harvard economists have calculated that the money spent on Medicaid expansion more than paid for itself, even after accounting for the fact that benefits that come in the future are worth less today, making the Affordable Care Act a great deal.

The public knows it, especially now.  Ask Oklahoma, a state so red that it’s margin of victory for Trump was close to astronomical in 2016.  They may be conservative there, but they’re not crazy.  They weren’t willing to risk their lives for Trump’s Tulsa rally for one thing, but more importantly, they voted soundly to direct the state recently to add Oklahoma to the expanded Medicaid states under the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans opposing the Affordable Care Act now in the time of pandemic is not a viable healthcare strategy.  It’s a retirement plan, sealed and specially delivered by the American people.