New Report Outlines What’s at Stake for South Carolina Health Care as Presidential Primary Looms
Washington, D.C.—Prospective primary voters in South Carolina may be studying Republican presidential candidates to try to find differences, but a report released today instead reveals what the candidates have in common: They have all endorsed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and they all support drastic changes to Medicaid and Medicare.
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 South Carolinians—old, young, and working-age—as health coverage protections are eliminated, and as prescription drugs, preventive care, and coverage itself becomes less affordable.
South Carolinians should be aware that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would mean:
- South Carolina’s 783,900 Medicare beneficiaries would no longer be eligible for free preventive services such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Nearly three-quarters of South Carolina’s beneficiaries (70.9 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. Nearly 55,000 South Carolinians received a rebate check for prescription drugs in 2010 thanks to the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, a similar number received even larger discounts while in the doughnut hole—an average of $571 per person through just October.
- Insurance companies could again deny health coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, a practice that is now prohibited. Nearly 80,000 children in South Carolina 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.
- Many young adults would no longer be able to remain on their parents’ insurance. In South Carolina, 44,200 young adults are now eligible to continue receiving coverage in this manner.
- Insurance companies could continue to deny coverage in the individual market for people in South Carolina between the ages of 18 and 64. Beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act makes such denials illegal, a reform that will be a positive benefit for nearly one in three South Carolinians in that age group—about 799,200 people—who have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition.
- Women would continue to pay higher premiums than men (a process called gender rating). In South Carolina, every one of the best-selling individual market plans—100 percent—currently charges 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, 481,800 people in South Carolina 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 South Carolina’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 would make things for people of South Carolina even worse, yanking coverage from South Carolina families in economic distress and putting health coverage out of economic reach for many South Carolina seniors.
"The Republican candidates never talk about real benefits to South Carolina 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 South Carolina," Pollack said.