HARTFORD, CT — Just as replacement efforts seem to have fallen short in Congress, a new report released Wednesday attempts to quantify the impact the Affordable Care Act has had on Connecticut.
The report, compiled by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center with the help and financial backing of the Connecticut Health Foundation, seeks to explain what could happen if federal lawmakers move ahead with repeal.
“Our goal is for decisions to be made with good data and an understanding of the implications on people’s lives,” Patricia Baker, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, said. “We commissioned this analysis to document what is at stake as lawmakers consider significant changes to the health care system.”
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report Wednesday saying that 32 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 and premiums would double if the Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, is simply repealed.
According to the Connecticut Health Foundation report, under the Affordable Care Act, Connecticut has seen 160,000 residents gain insurance. Those 160,000 residents “would likely be uninsured without it — representing 5.4 percent of residents under 65,” the report found.
As such, taking into consideration the people who have remained uninsured since passage of the ACA, the report estimates that a total of 359,000 Connecticut residents would be uninsured without it.
The report also pointed out that many people, including those covered by employer sponsored plans, have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.
For state residents with private insurance — including nearly 1.9 million people with employer sponsored insurance — the ACA guarantees several consumer protections, including a ban on lifetime and annual coverage limits. It also guarantees coverage of preventative services such as screenings and checkups.
The nearly 600,000 Connecticut residents on Medicare also benefited from the ACA. Aside from free preventative screenings, Medicare recipients also saw their prescription drug costs go down. Those with annual prescription drug expenses between $3,700 and $4,950 — the so-called “donut hole” — now receive Medicare coverage for 60 percent of the costs for name-brand drugs and 49 percent for generics. Without the ACA, according to the report, Medicare beneficiaries would not be covered for any medication costs in this range.
The report also found that in 2017, hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers would have delivered more than $1 billion in unreimbursed care to the uninsured without the ACA. However, the amount of uncompensated care is projected to be about 61 percent less.
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs the Access Health Board of Directors, lauded the report.
“This report helps us understand what’s working in health care reform, and what needs more work,” Wyman said. “Residents across the nation have benefited significantly from the ACA, and Connecticut is committed to continuing efforts to make health care more affordable and accessible.”