Firing a political shot across the bow of the incoming Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday released new state data detailing how the Affordable Care Act has resulted in “substantial improvements in health care for all Americans.”
In Nevada, for example, HHS reported that since passage of the law popularly known as Obamacare in 2010, the rate of Nevadans without health-care insurance has plunged 46 percent, from 22.6 percent to 12.3 percent. That translates to 294,000 state residents gaining insurance, it said.
Among the report’s other findings about the law’s impact in Nevada:
■ Of the 1.5 million residents covered through employer-sponsored health plans, 937,000 had a lifetime limit on their insurance policy removed.
■ A provision that permits children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health insurance has benefited roughly 19,000 Nevadans.
■ Approximately 71,472 Silver State residents earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level receive an average of $268 per month in tax credits to help with the cost of health care through the federal government’s Healthcare.gov website.
■ Hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries in Nevada declined by 6 percent between 2010 and 2015.
■ 34,285 senior citizens in the state saved $33 million – an average of $967 per beneficiary — on prescription drugs last year thanks to a portion of the act that closes a Medicare “donut hole” requiring seniors to pay out-of-pocket for drugs once they reach a set spending limit.
The report’s timing and the emphasis on the law’s across-the-board benefits suggest it was intended to boost public support for the law ahead of the changeover in the White House. President-elect Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Congress have signaled their intent to dismantle and eliminate parts of the act that they consider inefficient, unmanageable and costly.
The law has been particularly unpopular with Americans who don’t have insurance through an employer and must purchase coverage through the individual marketplace. Those who don’t qualify for subsidies available through the act have seen their premiums spike dramatically.
In a statement in the report, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell emphasized the benefits that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who have coverage through an employer, Medicaid, individual market or Medicare coverage realize as a result of the act.
“We need to build on our progress and continue to improve health care access, quality and affordability, not move our system backward,” she said in a statement accompanying the report, which was released two days prior to the enrollment deadline for ACA exchange coverage beginning Jan. 1. The final deadline for 2017 enrollment is Jan. 31.
The report comes amid uncertainty over what could potentially replace the legislation under the Trump administration.
Trump, who on the campaign trail promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, has since indicated he favors keeping certain provisions, including allowing young adults under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance and a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
But Trump also has picked a harsh critic of the law to be his secretary of HHS: Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., a six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon who has proposed detailed replacement legislation emphasizing age-adjusted health insurance tax credits and health savings accounts, grants to states to subsidize insurance for “high-risk populations” and interstate policy sales to heighten competition.
Republicans also maintain that Obamacare isn’t as popular as the Obama administration would like to believe.
A commentary on the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal website on Tuesday, for example, cited several polls showing that most Americans generally disapprove of the act and many believe the law has had a negative impact on their families.