Hospitals and other healthcare providers are a foundation for good in the United States, but our nation’s very solid progress toward accessible, high-quality care for all residents is now under siege as a result of the misguided campaign led by President-elect Trump and Republican congressional leaders to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
MHA is strongly opposed to the repeal of the ACA, and is one of the founding members of the new Massachusetts Coalition for Coverage and Care. This broad alliance of consumers, providers, health insurers, businesses, labor unions, and faith organizations is working to further educate policymakers in Massachusetts and Washington DC about the serious consequences that will result if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. We are also working to identify actions that the state and others can take to protect coverage and care for our residents.
Our greatest concern with repeal is the threat it poses to the coverage expansions that have dramatically reduced the number of uninsured in Massachusetts, as well as the advances underway to reform how healthcare is paid for and delivered.
Massachusetts leads the nation in the percentage of its residents with health insurance coverage – at 97%. But contrary to what seems to be popular opinion here, there is tremendous risk to that progress if the ACA is repealed and/or replaced, including the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding.
Massachusetts has been a pioneer in expanding health coverage over the years, including our state's historic 2006 health reform law that served as a model for the ACA. We believe our state serves as an example of how the ACA's approach to expanding access to affordable health coverage can be successful nationally if given the time and support it deserves.
With 10 years now passed since then-Governor Mitt Romney signed our initial health reform initiative into law, we can proudly say that the commonwealth's is better off healthcare-wise than it was in 2005. And I know we share this sentiment with other Massachusetts healthcare providers, insurers, the employer community, government leaders, and, most importantly, Massachusetts consumers and families. Yet all of these advances will be directly endangered if the ACA is repealed.
The ACA, like Medicare in 1965, has had its growing pains, but the benefits of the program far exceed any ongoing problems. As with any comprehensive law, it has been a work in progress. We are still reviewing all the potential impacts of repeal, but the immediate threats of coverage and Medicaid waiver losses, the end of quality initiatives, and the financial strain that will be placed upon hospitals are all extraordinarily troubling.
To my knowledge, no proposal has been floated that would actually maintain the insurance coverage that currently exists as a result of the ACA, or that would continue the quality and delivery system improvements now underway.
While I'm confident that the healthcare culture here in the commonwealth will continue to prioritize the advances we have made, the loss of federal support for affordable health coverage could have severe consequences in Massachusetts, as well as nationwide. We should not turn back the clock on the strong progress we have made.