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As Plans to Repeal ACA Unfurl, Urgency to Protect Healthcare

As Plans to Repeal ACA Unfurl, Urgency to Protect Healthcare

Womens March Pro-Healthcare Sign

The potential rollback of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be a primary focus with the new presidential administration now in place. On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order that gave federal agencies the ability and directive to  stop enforcing the law, thereby rolling back many of its key provisions. The scope and power of the executive order is uncertain, but it does reinforce that the Trump administration will make undoing the ACA a primary focus of its first 100 Days.

The ACA has provided healthcare to over 20 million Americans, and nearly 30 million stand to lose healthcare if it is repealed without an adequate, equitable replacement. On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President of the United States, said that the Trump administration is looking to the end the individual mandate that is a central piece of the legislation, and was upheld in the Supreme Court case NFIB v. Burwell in 2012. This mandate requires those who do not receive insurance from their employer or from the government to purchase health care through the private marketplace. Most individuals who purchase through the private marketplace receive a tax credit to help defray costs. The mandate has been an essential element of the ACA, as it has ensured that both healthy and unhealthy individuals buy insurance through the insurance marketplaces. This allows insurance companies to cover those with more substantial healthcare needs without charging them more.

Pressure to preserve affordable healthcare access has ramped up, including efforts led by the RAC and other faith groups. For Reform Jews and other religious groups, the access to affordable health care is an issue of human dignity.

Call your members of Congress or send them a letter to urge them to support maintaining the ACA. Using personal stories and connections to the ACA is one of the most compelling ways to express opposition to its repeal.

Defending affordable healthcare is not a new phenomenon for us as Reform Jews. Maimonides, the revered medieval Jewish physician and scholar, listed healthcare first on his list of the 10 most important communal services that a city should offer its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). Almost all self-governing Jewish communities throughout history set up systems to ensure that all their citizens had access to healthcare, including providing communal subsidies for those who could not afford services. Our tradition reminds us that even in discouraging moments, our faith calls us to advocate for access to healthcare.

As Congress debates repeal of the ACA, some replacement plan ideas have been floated to cover those who would lose coverage if the ACA is undone. Some senators proposed allowing states to decide whether to keep the ACA; this plan would mitigate some effects of repeal, but would still leave many without insurance. Trump administration officials have suggested transforming Medicaid into a block grant system as part of the ACA overhaul, which would severely diminish the power of program that has provided healthcare to millions for over 50 years. When reading about any ACA replacement plan, it is important to evaluate it through the lens of affordable coverage. The ACA is an imperfect law, but it has done an enormous amount to increase access to healthcare, particularly for vulnerable populations. Any replacement to the law should increase access to affordable coverage, not deny access to it.

The fight for affordable health coverage is urgent, and we hope you will join us as it continues. For more information on this issue, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Nathan Bennett at 202-387-2800.

Nathan Bennett is a Legislative Associate at the Religious Action Center. Previously, he served as a 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Originally from Wilmette, IL, he is a member of Ner Tamid Ezra Habonim Egalitarian Minyan and graduated from Northwestern University.

Nathan Bennett

Published: 1/24/2017