July 06, 2020

Sue Vogel – ACA Impact on Seniors


On June 25th, Trump’s Department Of Justice (DOJ) and Republican-led states are submitting their briefs in support of California v. Texas, the lawsuit seeking to strike down the ACA. If President Trump and Republicans have their way, 20 million Americans will lose their insurance coverage, 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will be stripped of their protections, and costs will go up for millions. The consequences of the lawsuit for America’s health care are particularly devastating at a time the country is gripped by the coronavirus crisis which threatens the health and safety of the entire nation.

Health care coverage for seniors is particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Older adults and seniors face unique risks as the country grapples with this health care crisis. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the groups “at high-risk for severe illness from Covid-19” are people 65 years and older and individuals who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. More than 100,000 Americans have died from coronavirus, with an estimated 80 percent of deaths among those over the age of 65. Nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the country have experienced a surge in outbreaks, with about 40 percent of deaths associated with these facilities.

The Affordable Care Act ensures critical protections for seniors and older adults nationwide. Between lowering prescription drug costs and limiting the amount insurers can charge, the ACA expanded access to health care for individuals aged 50 and older. 60 million people with Medicare have access to free preventive services because of the Affordable Care Act. Thanks to the Republican lawsuit, seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare “donut” hole got reopened. From 2010 to 2016, “More than 11.8 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts over $26.8 billion on prescription drugs – an average of $2,272 per beneficiary,” according to a January 2017 Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services report.

I am concerned that Senator Joni Ernst, who is facing a tough re-election campaign this November is not doing enough to protect vulnerable seniors and retirees. Ernst has voted eight times to weaken and dismantle the Affordable Care Act and take away the health insurance so many depend on. Worse yet, Ernst has wasted all this time attacking the Affordable Care Act and never introduced legislation or a plan that would insure the people who depend on the ACA for lifesaving medicines and medical care.

According to the Alliance for Retired Americans Annual Report, last year Ernst voted to confirm Chad Readler, known for filing the brief on behalf of the Trump Administration to strike down the ACA. Then just this past month Ernst voted to confirm Justin Walkerwho attacked Chief Justice John Robert’s 2012 Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act declaring it was “indefensible.” Ernst has been voting to destroy the law that protects the ACA and patients with pre-existing conditions, and then she votes to stack the courts with ACA opponents.

We have reached a critical point for the future of American health care and the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). No action would be more damaging to Americans’ health and safety than if the Trump administration achieves their desired goal of overturning the ACA in its entirety during this crisis.

Sue Vogel, AFSCME Council 61 Retiree, Waterloo, Iowa

This Letter to the Editor was originally published on Potluck.fm June 29, 2020.

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