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Editorial: Repealing ACA without a replacement is irresponsible

Editorial: Irresponsible for GOP to repeal #ACA without a better replacement:   #pfla

  • There is no consensus on how to replace the Affordable Care Act, and unwinding portions of it could take years.
  • The health care law has its faults, but it also has plenty of benefits and should not be scrapped before it is clear what comes next.
  • There are areas of the Affordable Care Act that need work.
  • It would be political and medical malpractice to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a broad, clear plan to replace it with reforms that are at least as effective.
  • It would be horribly irresponsible to rush to repeal the health care law without simultaneously providing a replacement that consumers, doctors and the health care community could vet – and the result could be a manufactured crisis.

The congressional Republicans moving quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no clear replacement are like high divers jumping without checking to see if the pool is filled. They have no idea what the landing will be like, and they are jeopardizing the health of millions of Americans. The health care law has its faults, but it also has plenty of benefits and should not be scrapped before it is clear what comes next.

@ProgressFlorida: Editorial: Irresponsible for GOP to repeal #ACA without a better replacement: #pfla

The congressional Republicans moving quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act with no clear replacement are like high divers jumping without checking to see if the pool is filled. They have no idea what the landing will be like, and they are jeopardizing the health of millions of Americans. The health care law has its faults, but it also has plenty of benefits and should not be scrapped before it is clear what comes next.

With President-elect Donald Trump urging them on, Republicans could force votes to repeal the health care reform law before the end of the month and declare victory. Trump said he wants a replacement “very quickly or simultaneously or very shortly thereafter.” Yet there is no consensus on how to replace the Affordable Care Act, and unwinding portions of it could take years. Congress isn’t good at meeting self-imposed future deadlines to avoid calamity (remember the government shutdowns over avoidable spending fights). It would be horribly irresponsible to rush to repeal the health care law without simultaneously providing a replacement that consumers, doctors and the health care community could vet — and the result could be a manufactured crisis.

If Republicans kill the individual mandate for having health insurance, fewer healthy people will buy coverage. If fewer healthy people seek coverage, more health insurers are going to pull out of the federal marketplaces. And if that happens, health plans will become even less accessible and more expensive as Congress fights over a new health care law. A long lag time between repeal and replacement will create more uncertainty in the medical care industry and more anxiety in families anxious about how they will meet their health care needs.

Of course, many Republicans want to keep the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as allowing parents to keep their children on their health plans until age 26, requiring coverage of patients with pre-existing conditions and banning limits on lifetime benefits. They are eager to repeal taxes, comprehensive coverage rules and requirements such as the individual and employer mandates. Trump has even promised at times that everyone who wants health coverage would be able to get it after Obamacare is repealed. But health care economics don’t work that way, and it is impossible to keep all of the sweet parts of health care reform without any of the strong medicine.

There are areas of the Affordable Care Act that need work. Affordability and accessibility to a variety of plans on the federal exchange remain issues in too many areas of the country. Too many low-income residents make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and too little money to qualify for subsidies to buy insurance on the federal exchange. It hasn’t helped that Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott have undermined the effectiveness of the law every step of the way.

But it is flat wrong for Scott and other Republicans to label the Affordable Care Act as a complete failure. The law has forced hospitals and doctors to become more efficient and to focus more on patient outcomes and less on fees for services. It is closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage doughnut hole. And more than 11 million Americans, including more than 1.6 million Floridians, have signed up for coverage for 2017 through the federal marketplace. The uninsured rates in Florida and the nation have dropped substantially.

As President Barack Obama said last week, if anyone can replace the Affordable Care Act with something that is better and covers as many people at less cost, that would be great. But Republicans do not even agree on how to replace the law, much less on changes that would be an improvement. Their familiar proposals to expand health savings accounts, allow health insurance to be sold across state lines and reduce regulation would not come close to achieving the same results.

Trump and congressional Republicans are playing a dangerous game with a huge portion of the economy and the health of millions of Americans. It would be political and medical malpractice to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a broad, clear plan to replace it with reforms that are at least as effective.

Editorial: Repealing ACA without a replacement is irresponsible

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