HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE Former Dem Lawmaker: ACA “Has Been A Great Success. Focus On Improving & Expanding It.”
In an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Democratic former Pennsylvania Congressman Jason Altmire – a leader in the health care industry – writes that the Affordable Care Act “has been a great success” and urges elected officials to “[f]ocus on improving and expanding it”:
It’s been 10 years since President Barack Obama initiated the discussion about America’s health care system, a contentious debate that culminated with the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now, leading Democrats advocate scrapping the ACA in favor of “Medicare for All” – the litmus test for the party’s 2020 presidential candidates. Today, more than 24 million Americans have access to health care as a result of the ACA’s limitation on pre-existing condition exclusions, the individual marketplace and Medicaid expansion … [I]n 2018 Democrats used these results to challenge Republicans who still want to repeal the law. They rode the resulting blue wave to a 40-seat gain and takeover of the House of Representatives. So why, after their crowning policy achievement of the past half-century, do some Democrats want to discard the ACA in favor of a single-payer Medicare for All approach?
The fact is that the Medicare system cannot handle such an expansion. The Congressional Budget Office reports that Medicare spending will double over the next decade, reaching an astonishing $1.5 trillion by 2029. In addition, the Medicare Trust Fund will be depleted by that time, according to the most recent report of its trustees. Further complicating the issue: The most popular program among Medicare beneficiaries is Medicare Advantage, an alternative to traditional Medicare that is run through private insurers. It would be eliminated under Medicare for All. Medicare Advantage is one of the few issues that garners overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. Attempts to limit funding for the program are routinely swatted away due to the grassroots uprising that occurs among seniors. Rick Pollack, the president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, has sounded the alarm about what Medicare for All would mean for hospitals, noting that “hospitals are already paid far less than the cost of caring for Medicare patients, and more patients with Medicare would strain hospitals even more and could threaten hospitals survival.”
Notably, The New York Times reported over the weekend that, among Pennsylvania Democrats, “there are widespread worries that the momentum [for their party] could screech to a halt if the issues in the 2020 presidential primaries and the party’s eventual nominee stray too far left for the region’s many centrist voters. ‘The more we have presidential candidates or newly elected congresspeople talking about … “Medicare for all,” talking about socialism, the more that plays into the Trump campaign’s hands,’ said Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and national Democratic chairman.”
To read Democratic former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire’s full op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, CLICK HERE.