A Brief Summary of the Health Care Forum
Palatine Public Library
During an information-packed health care forum hosted by NWSOFA (North West Suburbs Organizing For America) and Protect Our Care IL, presenters painted a clear picture of what the healthcare insurance landscape looked like before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect. Of the non-elderly population who lacked employee coverage and had to look for an individually purchased insurance plan, 17% had no insurance at all. premiums were sky-rocketing. Of those insured by individually purchased plans, 75% had no maternity care, no addiction treatment, no preventative care and a multitude of loopholes where insurance companies could deny you coverage if your care became too expensive. Medicaid was only available to those below a certain income level and additionally they had to be disabled, be a child or care-giving parent of a covered child or pregnant. Those battling chronic health conditions and the “working poor” were not eligible, despite not earning enough to afford health insurance.
When the ACA was passed, during the first year, the uninsured rate dropped from 17% to 7% and the insurance plans covered the 10 Essential Health Benefits, giving robust coverage, and banning denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and banning life-time caps on the cost of certain coverage. Medicaid was expanded to include the “working poor” where eligibility was based on income and not a checklist of other qualifiers. Though the ACA (like most programs when they are newly launched) needed some tweaks to correct problems, it was working in providing more Americans better access to quality health care coverage.
The current health care plans being proposed by the House (AHCA) and Senate (BCRA), would roll back all progress made in providing Americans with health insurance, to the conditions found prior to the ACA. Medicaid cutbacks would devastate many hospitals, particularly those in rural areas. Loss of those hospitals would also result in loss of jobs both directly in those affected hospitals and jobs in areas that support the hospitals, further hurting those communities. Loss of coverage for many Americans would result in more people dying from preventable conditions.
The unpopularity of the recent Senate plan has resulted in some Republican Senators refusing to support the BRCA and a delay in the planned Senate vote. Although this is a temporary victory, the battle has just begun. Senate leaders will modify their plan – not necessarily for the better – and use all means to persuade enough Senators to vote and pass the BCRA
Now is the time to maintain pressure on the Senators and turn up the volume of your protest! This will be a long battle. Call your Senators, call wavering Republican Senators, join rallies, write letters to the editor, call Gov. Rauner. Do whatever you can. See our action items list for suggestions and events as they are updated. Click here (or the link in the first paragraph) for the link to all of the information sheets covered at the forum.