Friday, Oct. 4, 2019 | 2 a.m.
A 21-year-old who is able to remain on her parents’ health insurance policy gets regular treatment for her asthma and can manage the condition. An older man with advanced kidney disease gets a longer lease on life thanks to Medicaid expansion. One of his neighbors, who has diabetes and high blood pressure, is able to start taking an expensive blood-thinning medication again after also gaining coverage through Medicaid expansion.
Stories like these abound across the United States, showing that Americans’ health made a vast improvement under the Affordable Care Act.
As reported recently by The Washington Post in a story based on several health studies, the ACA spurred a variety of life-altering impacts since it was enacted nearly a decade ago. Among them:
• Infant deaths dropped significantly in regions that expanded Medicaid. The trending was particularly strong for African-American babies.
• Among previously uninsured people who were able to obtain ACA plans through federal subsidies, there was a sharp increase in detection of high blood pressure and in the filling of prescriptions to treat the condition.
• The law allowing children to be protected under their parents’ health care coverage until age 26 resulted in more 19- to 25-year-old asthma sufferers seeing doctors for treatment.
• In Ohio, at least 25,000 smokers broke their addiction to nicotine with help they received through Medicaid expansion.
• Nationwide, Americans suffering serious kidney disease were more likely to be alive a year after going on dialysis if they lived in a Medicaid-expansion state than in states that rejected the ACA.
Other studies showed benefits for heart patients, women seeking birth control and individuals with previously undiagnosed health problems such as chronic lung disease and high blood pressure.
Although there’s no conclusive nationwide study on the issue, there’s strong and mounting evidence the ACA is a godsend for Americans. About 20 million people are now covered under Medical expansion or under private health care plans under the ACA’s insurance marketplaces.
The results are an inspiration for Americans who fought for the ACA and strive to maintain it. On the flipside, they are an indictment of every Republican lawmaker — from President Donald Trump on down — who opposed the ACA.
Imagine how much better the outcome would be if several GOP-leaning states hadn’t rejected the initiative or if Trump hadn’t undercut it by slashing funding for federal subsidies for ACA plans, cutting funding for advertising and public awareness of state exchanges, and expanding availability of junk health plans.
Fortunately for Nevadans, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and the Republican he succeeded, Brian Sandoval, both were supporters of the ACA. Sandoval, to his lasting credit, broke from his party ranks to be an early adopter of expanded Medicaid.
Now, though, the future of the ACA is in peril. The 5th Circuit U.S. District Court of Appeals is expected to soon rule on a case challenging the law’s constitutionality, which could result in the U.S. Supreme Court considering it. Given the current makeup of the high court, that’s unsettling.
That being the case, it’s critical to elect candidates in 2020 who will protect Americans’ health and well-being by supporting the ACA.