Is the ACA Here to Stay?
Over the past few months, many of our clients have asked about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the future of the law over the next few months and years. One of the most frequently asked questions is whether or not “Obamacare” is here to stay.
While there’s no definitive answer to this question, it appears more and more likely that the new health care law is not going away.
Among the many reasons that state leaders believe the ACA will remain in place are two key points:
- Many states have already begun implementing the law and providing coverage, meaning a full repeal of the law would be complicated at best, if not impossible.
- The law seems to be gaining traction and enrollments are on the rise. Nearly 3.3 million people have signed up through Feb. 1 for health care coverage under the law. The White House also reported that during the month of January alone, one million people across the country signed up for private insurance under the law.
During their recent meetings in Washington, state governors from around the country gathered to discuss current legislative matters, including raising the minimum wage and the ability to obtain more freedom from federal legislation. While debate ensued between Republican and Democratic camps on these and other issues, both sides seemed to agree in one area: Obamacare is not going away. Despite their differences of opinion about the ACA (many on the Right have deemed the law “unaffordable and unsustainable”), both sides are attempting to see past their conflicting viewpoints in order to make the new law work for their constituents. Democrats claim that since the law has already gone into effect for so many families, Republicans would be hard pressed to yank away coverage from their constituents who are already receiving benefits from the law.
According to reports from Associated Press last week it remains unclear whether or not the Obama Administration will reach its unofficial goal of 7 million registrants by the end of March. Still, several million more are expected to enroll by that time, with sign-ups in six Republican-led states — Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin —on pace to match or exceed figures the states had initially projected.
Like any other major issue confronting our country, politics are at the heart of this issue. Without a doubt, a key Republican strategy in upcoming mid-term elections will be opposition to the health care law, while Democrats will fight to defend the law as critical legislation that is helping millions of people find affordable healthcare. Conservatives are attacking Democrats who supported the overhaul, seizing on problems with the program’s website and news that some Americans were forced to change insurers once the law took effect.
The 2014 mid-term elections will have a direct bearing on control of the House and Senate, but there are also 36 elections for governor, most of them for jobs currently held by Republicans. The coming elections also offer several 2016 presidential candidates the opportunity to boost their political standing, and there’s no question that debate over national health will dominate discussion.
Nonetheless, Obamacare survived the initial Repeal Movement in 2013, and following this winter’s meetings in Washington, political conversations seem to be shifting from gridlock to cooperation.
Stay tuned. This should get very interesting.
About the Author
David Martin is a Vice President in the Employee Benefits Group at William Gallagher Associates.He specializes in working with mid- to large size companies in all areas of employee benefit plan design, funding, compliance, administration and communications.