Now that three of the nation’s largest health insurance companies have promised to preserve key parts of Obamacare regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, Republicans are using it as an opportunity to show why the U.S. does not need the Affordable Care Act:
“Today’s announcement is a reminder that sensible health care reform does not require the massive government takeover in Washington Democrats’ law, which is hurting our economy by driving up costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner. Steel added that the private insurers’ action “reinforces our commitment” to repeal any portion of the law that the court leaves standing.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) offered a similar view. “There is plenty of room for solutions in the private market, and a primary objection to the ACA remains the heavy-handed, bureaucratic approach, which necessarily compels millions of employers and beneficiaries to leave private insurance in favor of a public option,’” she said in an email.
But it is short-sighted to promote a few companies continuing a few provisions, like allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, as a replacement for the comprehensive health care reform law. For one, the insurers who will keep some parts of the health care reform law will likely not preserve guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing conditions. And it is not clear that other companies will follow UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, and Humana and continue certain Obamacare regulations.
Most importantly, as the New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn points out, these insurance companies also won’t be adding more Obamacare reforms that would have kicked in by 2014: federal subsidies to help people buy insurance, expanded Medicaid eligibility, minimum benefit standards, among other regulations. “They aren’t doing any of these things because, as a practical matter, they can’t. All of them require fundamental, structural changes to the insurance market, along with government subsidies,” Cohn writes. And only a law like the Affordable Care Act can do all of the above to help expand health care access and guarantee better coverage for millions of Americans.