By Suzanne Potter, California News Service
December 6, 2023 (Sacramento) -- Advocates for affordable health care are speaking out to remind people what is at stake if the Affordable Care Act is repealed in the wake of recent statements by former President Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump, who leads the polls for the 2024 Republican nomination, has recently said he is looking at alternatives to the Affordable Care Act, and criticized the GOP lawmakers who voted against his attempts to end the program in 2017.
Laura Packard, a Stage 4 cancer survivor, noted before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were allowed to deny coverage to people like her with pre-existing conditions.
"While I was on the couch, trying to survive, that's when Republicans in the U.S. House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act that was keeping me alive," Packard recounted. "Then, they held a party to celebrate. We can't go back to that."
The Affordable Care Act created health exchanges -- like Covered California -- offering subsidized health insurance to millions of people. And it funded an expansion of MediCal, benefiting 5 million low-income Californians in the first six years after the law's passage.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who helped write the health care law, said the Affordable Care Act forces health insurance companies to cover basic services like maternity care, mental health services, cancer screenings and contraception. The idea of getting rid of the law has been largely unpopular, and Wyden knows why.
"It would mean higher premiums for families and health insurance," Wyden pointed out. "And it would also threaten Medicaid nursing home benefits, because Medicaid is paying much of the nursing home bill for this country."
The law also allows adult children to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26 and bans lifetime caps on coverage.