In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression, opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are continuing their legal attempts to repeal the landmark law in court this week.
The health care repeal lawsuit, California v. Texas (formerly Texas v. US), will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court today. If successful, it would topple the popular ACA and all of the consumer protections it provides, leaving hundreds of thousands of Louisianans without preventive care, treatment options or long-term coverage.
“The ACA has been good for Louisiana, providing vital protections and healthcare coverage for Louisianans struggling to make ends meet,” said Stacey Roussel, policy director for the Louisiana Budget Project. “Amid the health and economic crisis of Covid-19, it is a shame that we have some leaders who want to take away life-saving health care coverage from Louisianans who can least afford it.”
The Louisiana Access to Care Coalition, which represents tens of thousands of patients and consumers, stands opposed to these actions and in support of the Affordable Care Act. The landmark federal law has resulted in record low health uninsured rates in Louisiana, largely due to the adoption of Medicaid expansion, which serves as a lifeline to more than 500,000 low-income adults.
“Medicaid expansion has been a game changer for Louisiana’s Community Health Centers and the patients in their care,” said Raegan A. Carter, Director of Health Policy & Governmental Affairs for the Louisiana Primary Care Association. “The Affordable Care Act has positively impacted our patients by expanding access to affordable health coverage, protecting those with pre-existing conditions, and empowering patients to take advantage of primary and preventive care.”
The ACA provides vital pre-existing conditions coverage for more than 900,000 impacted Louisianans, including Covid-19 survivors, and the funding to ensure coverage remains affordable. It also provides coverage to around 90,000 Louisianans through the private health insurance marketplace, with more than 80% receiving federal subsidies to keep their insurance premiums affordable.
The ACA has also been good for Louisiana’s economy, bringing an estimated $1.7 billion a year in federal funding that supports doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care providers in every parish.
Ron McClain, chairman of the United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Public Policy Committee, said the ACA provides critical support for low-income working families that struggle to survive just above the poverty line “Accessing quality healthcare is essential for many citizens especially ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families,” McClain said. “We need to continue to work hard to ensure health care is available to all who need it regardless of their income.”
Public health advocate Jamila Freightman of Baton Rouge relied on Medicaid coverage during a recent gap in employment, and wants the program to be available for other people who experience life’s unexpected hardships and interruptions. “It worries me to think that this lawsuit could overturn all the progress we’ve made, especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency. I feel fortunate to have a job today, but I know that many of my fellow Louisianans are not as lucky,” Freightman said.
Medicaid expansion has helped stabilize the state budget and ensured that health care providers get paid for the services they provide. It’s one reason rural hospitals in Louisiana have kept their doors open while hospitals in non-expansion states have been forced to close.
“Ending the Affordable Care Act would be fatal for hundreds of thousands in our state. Some would lose immediate access to health care, and many rural hospitals would close. Louisiana should be fighting FOR the ACA, not against it,” said state Rep.Mandie Landry of New Orleans, who authored House Resolution 43 requesting that Landry withdraw Louisiana from the lawsuit.
Now is the time to build on the ACA and ensure health care coverage is affordable, accessible and equitable, giving everyone a fair shot at getting through this crisis healthy and whole. It is not the time to make millions of Americans — including hundreds of thousands in Louisiana — more vulnerable and less able to access the care they need.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
League of Women Voters
Louisiana Budget Project
Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families
Louisiana Primary Care Association
Louisiana Public Health Institute
National Birth Equity Collaborative
Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund
United Way of Southeast Louisiana