Affordable Care Act Update

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and nicknamed “Obamacare” was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, expanding access to health coverage for millions of Americans who would otherwise be uninsured. The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have continually tried to dismantle the ACA.

What’s new?

  • A group of Republican-led states, supported by the Trump Administration, have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. The law is being defended by a group of Democratic state Attorneys General and the House of Representatives. The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
  • The Court is expected to hear oral arguments in the case on Nov. 10, 2020.
  • If the law is struck down, over 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage. It would also eliminate essential consumer protections, including those for people with pre-existing conditions and mandates that insurers cover prescription drugs, mental health care and other essential services.
  • Meanwhile, open enrollment for 2021 Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage plans will begin on November 1, 2020 and end on December 15, 2020.
  • Illinoisans who are uninsured, have lost or are losing access to employer-sponsored insurance can shop for and enroll in coverage through healthcare.gov or getcovered.illinois.gov.
  • AMITA Health promotes enrollment with our communities by providing navigators in our hospitals, a phone number and website to connect people with the information they needed to get enrolled.
  • For a history of the ACA repeal and replace debate, please see Resources

What’s the issue?

  • The ACA transformed the non-group insurance market in the United States, and:
    • mandated that most residents have health insurance.
    • significantly expanded public insurance and subsidized private insurance coverage.
    • raised revenues from a variety of new taxes.
    • reduced and reorganized spending under Medicare, the nation’s largest health insurance plan.
    • introduced a number of new payment models for health systems and care givers that focus on value instead of volume.
  • When the Trump Administration came into office, the Republican majority in Congress made it a top priority to repeal and/or replace the ACA.
  • Legislative efforts to repeal the ACA have stalled, leading the Trump Administration to issue a series of executive actions to destabilize ACA marketplaces and attempt to increase pressure on legislators to repeal the law. Including shortening the open enrollment period for the ACA from 10 weeks to 6 weeks.
  • The state-led lawsuit stemmed from frustration of Republican governors at the failure of Washington to repeal the law.

Why does it matter?

  • Efforts to repeal or strike down the Affordable Care Act would severely hurt Illinois patients.
  • It would roll-back Medicaid expansion, remove safeguards for patients with pre-existing conditions and reduce subsidies for the purchase of insurance.
  • As a result, Illinois would experience:
    • Illinois could lose up to $21.2 billion in Medicaid funding and 343,000 people in Illinois would lose Medicaid health care coverage.
    • Related job losses and reduction of funding in our local communities would worsen Illinois’ economic burden
    • Increases in the number of uninsured would place additional financial strain on AMITA Health.

What is the AMITA Health perspective?

  • AMITA Health supports the Affordable Care Act. As the largest health system in Illinois, AMITA Health opposes proposals that would severely limit access to care, especially for the most vulnerable among us. Completely repealing the ACA would adversely impacts the well-being of both patients and providers.
  • AMITA Health fundamentally believes in access to health care. Ensuring access to health care is a fundamental belief of our ministry. Any change to the ACA should maintain coverage gains that have provided many people in Illinois with the coverage they need to proactively seek care.  We don’t believe that 23 million Americans should lose access to coverage.
  • Illinois is already disadvantaged.Rolling back the Medicaid expansion would further the disparities Illinois already faces with funding.
  • Continue to build upon the ACA. We welcome the opportunity to work with our elected officials on meaningful changes to health care policy that would help accelerate the triple aim of reduced costs, improved outcomes and increased patient satisfaction. We acknowledge that the ACA is not perfect and want to work to improve it in meaningful ways.

External Resources

Information from third-party organizations that can be resources for you to continue to learn about the issues at hand.

ACA Repeal Overview

View Resource

Issue Brief U.S. Health Insurance Coverage in 2020: A looming Crisis in Affordability

This report provides findings from the Commonwealth Fund’s biennial Health Insurance Survey.

View Resource

Potential Impact of Texas v. U.S. Decision on the ACA

This brief provides a summary of the major provisions of the ACA and their impact.

View Resource