New Report Outlines What’s at Stake for Colorado Health Care as Presidential Caucuses Loom
If allowed to be implemented, these changes represent major reversals in national progress toward ensuring that all citizens in this nation have access to affordable health coverage. Their proposals would undo almost 50 years of health coverage progress and would affect all Coloradans—old, young, and working-age—as health coverage protections are eliminated, and as prescription drugs, preventive care, and coverage itself becomes less affordable.
Coloradans should be aware that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would mean:
- Colorado’s 631,400 Medicare beneficiaries would no longer be eligible for free preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Nearly two-thirds of beneficiaries (62.7 percent) took advantage of the benefit for at least one free preventive service between January and November 2011.
- Instead of diminishing through rebates and ultimately disappearing, the infamous Medicare Part D "doughnut hole"—the huge gap in prescription drug coverage—would grow. More than 42,000 Coloradans received a rebate check for prescription drugs in 2010 thanks to the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, a similar number received even larger discounts—an average of $561 per person through just October—while in the doughnut hole.
- Insurance companies could again deny health coverage for children with a pre-existing condition, a practice now prohibited. Nearly 73,000 children in Colorado have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition like asthma or diabetes that could have resulted in denial of coverage in the individual market prior to reform.
- Insurance companies could continue to deny coverage in the individual market for people in Colorado between the ages of 18 and 64. Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act makes such denials illegal, a reform that will benefit more than one in four Coloradans—about 859,300 people—who have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition.
- Women would continue to pay higher premiums than men. In Colorado, the vast majority of the best-selling individual market plans—90 percent—currently charge a 40-year-old, non-smoking woman higher premiums than a 40-year-old, non-smoking man. Gender rating will be made illegal in 2014, unless the Affordable Care Act is repealed.
- Lower- and middle-income individuals and families would lose tax cuts to help pay for health care premiums. Under the law, 493,900 people in Colorado will be eligible for these premium tax cuts in 2014.
The list of bad outcomes from the repeal of health reform goes on: losing the opportunity to purchase coverage like Congress has, the re-establishment of lifetime and annual caps on benefits, the freedom of health insurers to spend benefits on almost anything besides health care, and the loss of a standardized right to appeal coverage decisions.
"Returning our health care system to a ‘Wild West’ market run by health insurers would take away important new rights and benefits gained by Colorado’s families under the Affordable Care Act," Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA, said today. "Making cuts to Medicaid and ending Medicare as we know it makes things for people of Colorado even worse, yanking coverage from Colorado families in economic distress and putting health coverage out of economic reach for many Colorado seniors.
"The Republican candidates never talk about real benefits to Colorado families under Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, and they offer nothing positive in the way of replacing the benefits they would take away from hard-working families in Colorado," Pollack said.