Congress is quickly moving to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – referred to as “Obamacare.” There may be problems with the ACA, but gutting it entirely without a well-conceived replacement plan will throw our healthcare system into chaos, moving us, in fact, backwards. We urge our congressional delegates to think about the implications of a repeal and the impact it will have on hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who depend on it every day.
When you don’t have insurance, necessary care is often postponed until you can afford it. Without regular doctor visits and access to prescription medications, expensive hospitalizations or ER visits are more likely. The uninsured are also more likely to be hospitalized for avoidable problems and experience declines in overall health. Those with inadequate or no insurance often face significant medical debt leading to bankruptcy.
Since the ACA passed in 2010, we have seen Nevada’s healthcare system move forward. Uncompensated care costs for hospitals have declined. Our healthcare system has moved from one that rewards quantity of care to one that rewards quality of care – reducing costs and providing better care for patients. Most importantly, since the implementation of the ACA exchanges and Medicaid expansion in Nevada, we have seen the uninsured rate decline to a record low 11 percent.
Repealing the ACA without an effective alternative will also have major impacts on Nevada’s healthcare system. Local healthcare providers and facilities across the state could see dramatic financial losses resulting from a reduction in health insurance coverage, which could lead to major job losses. Safety net providers, like community health centers, with limited resources and capacity, may not be able to serve all the newly uninsured.
That’s why we need to see a replacement plan before any vote to repeal the ACA, so that Nevadans can determine whether they will continue to have healthcare coverage in the future. Any replacement plan should be judged on whether it meets real standards for improving the quality and affordability of healthcare in Nevada.
Gov. Brian Sandoval made a courageous decision to implement the ACA insurance exchange and to expand Medicaid in Nevada. While the ACA is not perfect, it provides a solid foundation for making even more improvements in our healthcare system. It is moving us forward towards our goals of healthier communities. Nevada cannot afford to go backwards.