Obama, HHS Tout ACA Successes on Law’s Fifth Anniversary
President Obama on Sunday commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, calling on opponents of the law to stop trying to repeal the law and instead accept that it is "working better than even many of its supporters expected," the Washington Times reports (Howell, Washington Times, 3/22).
In a statement, Obama said more than 16 million previously uninsured U.S. residents had gained insurance since the ACA took effect. "These aren't just numbers," he said, adding, "There are Americans who, without this law, would not be alive today."
He also said "the law has helped improve the quality of health care: It's a major reason we saw 50,000 fewer preventable patient deaths in hospitals over the last three years of data."
Further, he noted that "[i]n stark contrast to predictions that this law would cause premiums to skyrocket, last year the growth in health care premium costs for businesses matched its lowest level on record." He added that if premium costs had continued to increase over the last four years at the same rate of the past decade, "the average family premium would be $1,800 higher than it is today" (Balluck, The Hill, 3/22).
Obama said, "The [ACA] has been the subject of more scrutiny, more rumor, more attempts to dismantle and undermine it than just about any law in recent history. But five years later, it is succeeding." He urged the law's opponents to "embrace reality," adding, "Instead of trying yet again to repeal the [law] and allowing special interests to write their own rules, we should work together to keep improving our health care system for everybody" (Washington Times, 3/22).
HHS: ACA Led to $7.4 Billion Drop in Hospitals' Uncompensated Care Costs
In related news, states in 2014 experienced a $7.4 billion decline in hospitals' uncompensated care costs because of coverage expansions under the ACA, according to two reports from HHS, Politico Pro reports.
According to Politico Pro, HHS released the two reports to mark the law's fifth anniversary and to encourage states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs under the law to do so. The reports' findings on uncompensated care costs also accounted for individuals who purchased exchange coverage.
The reports found that states that opted to expand Medicaid experienced a $5 billion reduction in hospitals' uncompensated care costs, while states that did not expand Medicaid saw a $2.4 billion decline in such costs. According to HHS, the states that did not expand their Medicaid programs could have further reduced uncompensated care costs by $1.4 billion if they had opted for expansion (Pradhan, Politico Pro, 3/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.