Op-Ed: ACA Repeal Would Be Devastating in Ky.

By Dustin Pugel
January 31, 2017

This column originally ran in the Courier-Journal on Jan. 31, 2017. It ran in the Kentucky Gazette on Feb. 1, 2017. The Richmond Register published it on Feb. 2, 2017

Communities thrive when they have a strong foundation made up of things like good schools and quality healthcare. The Affordable Care Act empowered Kentucky to bring healthcare to half a million of our citizens, protect ourselves from harmful insurance practices and boost our economy.

Repeal would undo all of that progress.

First and foremost, an estimated 486,000 Kentuckians would lose insurance coverage from ACA repeal. Because we were so successful at signing people up for coverage, we would have the third largest increase in the rate of uninsured of any state if the law went away.

When it comes to the protections we would lose as Kentuckians, a few critical ones stand out:

  • 1.9 million privately insured Kentuckians, as well as 863,000 seniors on Medicare, could lose free preventative care.
  • 1.4 million Kentuckians, including children, could see lifetime or even annual caps placed on their insurance coverage.
  • Women could be charged premiums as high as 57 percent more than men.
  • All insured Kentuckians could lose protection from being overcharged by insurance companies.
  • Disabled and older Kentuckians would pay more for prescription drugs, or else forgo them entirely.

And what about the popular guarantee of coverage for preexisting conditions in the ACA? If it is repealed, 1.9 million Kentuckians with conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer and even pregnancy could see their premiums dramatically increase, or simply be denied insurance coverage altogether. But keeping the preexisting coverage protection without requiring everyone to be insured will touch off what’s called an insurer “death spiral,” leading to skyrocketing premiums or insurers pulling out of the individual market altogether. This would be devastating for Kentuckians who buy coverage directly from an insurance company.

Finally, the billions of dollars the federal government has pumped into Kentucky have been a major boost to our economy. If repeal moves forward and that money suddenly evaporates, every part of the commonwealth will feel it.

  • 45,000 jobs would be lost by 2019.
  • Over five years beginning in 2019, Kentucky would lose nearly $41 billion in business output.
  • Kentucky would see $718 million less in state and local tax revenue in the midst of a health crisis and a massive pension liability that has already pushed lawmakers to undermine critical state services.

Taken together, this is not the formula for a thriving community. It would, however, wreak havoc on our healthcare system and reverberate throughout the commonwealth. People would be left without access to needed treatment, healthcare providers would see their revenues shrink and possibly close their doors and state government would be forced to further cut vital services as it deals with a smaller state coffer.

Kentucky’s representatives in Washington should be aware of the harm that would cause back home before making such a reckless decision.

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