The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Under Threat
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a landmark health insurance law, has faced numerous challenges since its inception 13 years ago. Today, it finds itself in new jeopardy. The focus this time is on a vital provision of the ACA – the requirement for free coverage of preventive health care. This provision is under threat following a ruling by a federal judge in Texas, who deemed it unconstitutional. However, a federal appeals court has imposed a partial stay on the order, allowing the preventive health care provision to continue while the lower court ruling is being appealed.
The Significance of Preventive Health Care
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has emphasized the importance of the preventive health care provision, stating that it is a critical part of what makes the ACA so valuable and effective in improving public health. Preventive care includes services for mental illness, substance abuse, diabetes, and HIV. Such care not only saves lives but also helps people live healthier lives. Kaul insists on the need to protect this provision.
Advocacy for the ACA
Kaul’s statements were made during a news conference organized by Protect Our Care, an ACA advocacy group. The meeting was held at the Madison offices of Vivent Health, a multi-state nonprofit agency that provides health care, social services, and HIV prevention. Wisconsin is one of over 20 states that have signed on to a friend of the court brief in the preventive care case. Kaul noted that his support for the ACA has allowed millions of Americans to retain their health insurance coverage and receive care, regardless of preexisting conditions.
The Role of Vivent Health
Vivent Health is significant in providing care to over 5,000 clients in Wisconsin, accounting for more than half of the state’s residents living with HIV. Brandon Hill, Vivent’s interim president, and CEO, highlighted the economic insecurity faced by their clients, with 87% living below the federal poverty line. He also pointed out the disproportionate representation of people of color and individuals identifying as gay, bisexual, or transgender among Vivent’s clients.
The Impact on Low-Income Communities
Hill expressed concern that the court ruling could thwart efforts to end the spread of HIV and reduce health disparities affecting people of color and the LGBTQ community. He warned that eliminating free coverage for preventive services and imposing new cost-sharing requirements would target low-income communities, particularly those of color and the LGBTQ community. This could overturn significant gains made in reducing HIV rates.
Case Study: Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin
Mona Williams of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin shared a poignant story of a patient who had never had a well-woman physical. The patient, a Black woman, was found to have advanced cervical cancer. Williams emphasized that access to preventive care could have improved the patient’s quality of life. She warned that restrictions on access to preventive sexual and reproductive health care disproportionately harm Black, Latina, and indigenous communities, who already face barriers due to systemic racism and discrimination.
The ruling against free preventive care is tied to ongoing threats to reproductive rights. Kaul noted that while the ruling is not directly related to the public health attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is part of a broader trend to undermine programs designed to promote public health. He stressed that the issue at hand is about valuing people’s health and lives over the bottom-line profits for insurers.
What is the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is a comprehensive healthcare reform law enacted in March 2010. It has three primary goals:
- Make affordable health insurance available to more people.
- Expand the Medicaid program.
- Support innovative medical care delivery methods to lower the cost of health care overall.
What is preventive health care?
Preventive health care refers to preventing diseases or injuries rather than curing them or treating their symptoms. This can include screenings, check-ups, and patient counseling to prevent health issues from happening or detect problems early when they are most treatable.
Why is the preventive health care provision of the ACA under threat?
A federal judge in Texas ruled that the requirement for free coverage of preventive health care under the ACA is unconstitutional. This ruling is currently being appealed.
What is the impact of the ACA on health insurance coverage?
The ACA has allowed millions of Americans to retain their health insurance coverage and receive care, regardless of preexisting conditions.
How does the court ruling affect low-income communities?
The court ruling could eliminate free preventive service coverage and impose new cost-sharing requirements. This would primarily target low-income communities, particularly those of color and the LGBTQ community, and could overturn significant gains in reducing HIV rates.
What is the connection between the ruling and threats to reproductive rights?
The ruling against free preventive care is tied to ongoing threats to reproductive rights. It is part of a broader trend to undermine programs designed to promote public health.
What is the stance of Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul on the issue?
Josh Kaul strongly supports the ACA and the preventive health care provision. He believes that the issue at hand is about valuing people’s health and lives over the bottom-line profits for insurers.
Source: The Wisconsin Examiner