So, Kentuckians voted Mitch in for another term. He said that was because of his leadership for uncertain times. Uncertain times that he helped to fester.
On Nov. 10, the U.S. solicitor general and Republican state attorneys general will go before the “new” Supreme Court to argue in California v. Texas that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should be struck down in its entirety. If the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA, it will have a devastating impact on ordinary Americans’ health and economic security while transferring massive amounts of tax money to the very wealthy.
Nationally, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates that repealing the ACA would give the richest 0.1 percent — people making more than $3.8 million annually — tax cuts averaging $198,250. Middle- and lower-income Americans would see small tax cuts from the repeal of the ACA, but millions would lose premium tax credits that save them thousands of dollars on health insurance.
A repeal of the ACA would also strike down the regulations that ensure health insurance marketplaces, while limiting affordable public insurance through Medicaid. This will hurt low- and moderate-income Americans.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare) has survived previous legal challenges since its passage in 2010. However, the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, a critic of the health care law, as the Supreme Court’s newest member places the ACA in significant peril.
Why would Mitch McConnell want to strip away health care coverage during a pandemic where one-third Kentuckians are on Medicaid?
According to Dustin Pugel of Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, “Millions of Kentuckians don’t see the ACA as an abstract legal question – it is the difference between medical care and facing possible bankruptcy. Because of the ACA, Kentuckians are better able to afford a doctor despite pre-existing health conditions. And as more people get their doctor bills paid for, local economies get a significant boost. California v. Texas puts all these gains at stake.
“More than 562,000 Kentuckians currently have health coverage because of the ACA’s expanded Medicaid and insurance premium subsidies. So many people got coverage through these options that Kentucky’s uninsured rate decreased from 14.3% to 6.4% between 2013 and 2019.
“This decline in the uninsured rate after full ACA implementation in 2014 helped reduce long-standing racial and ethnic disparities. The uninsured rate fell from 13.6% to 6.0% for white Kentuckians between 2013 and 2019. But for Black Kentuckians it plummeted from 17.5% to 7.4%, and it decreased from 32.3% to 20.0% for Hispanic/Latino Kentuckians.”
Mr. Pugel added, “If the Supreme Court strikes down the ACA, the number of uninsured Kentuckians would nearly triple to 836,000 according to the Urban Institute. That would bring our state’s uninsured rate up to 22% — far above what it was before the ACA became law. Kentucky would see the third-highest increase of its uninsured rate in the nation.
“Without the protections for people with pre-existing conditions in the ACA, nearly 1.8 million Kentuckians could face higher premiums, larger out-of-pocket costs, and new annual and lifetime caps in how much an insurance company would pay for treatment. They could even be denied coverage altogether.”
These unacceptable risks would hit people with health circumstances ranging from cancer, heart disease, being a woman of childbearing age, and Kentucky’s 80,000 COVID-19 patients.
Mr. Pugel summed up the dangers: “Many people will avoid care, struggle with unpayable medical bills, or relying on charity care, repealing the ACA would have a devastating effect on local economies. Medicaid expansion has pumped over $3 billion into Kentucky every year, which keeps rural hospitals open.
“In fact, when Congress was considering a legislative repeal of the ACA in 2017, the Commonwealth Fund estimated that 44,500 Kentuckians would lose their jobs, not only in health care, but also in construction, retail, and other sectors.”
The only Kentuckians who would benefit from repealing the ACA are millionaires, who would see an average tax cut of $68,780 per year (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy).
The ACA made a real difference, and Kentucky was one of the biggest winners from the ACA’s improvements to access to affordable healthcare.
The future of the Commonwealth will depend on an activist Republican Supreme court.
And Mitch’s leadership?
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of the Murray Ledger & Times.