The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act promised to provide more affordable and better health care for all. Unfortunately, the law has delivered just the opposite—so much so that President Obama continues to delay deadlines on some of its most harmful provisions, while granting exemptions to millions.
As the open enrollment period for exchange plans wraps up, lets take a look at some of the groups who sought exemptions from the law:
- Americans with Canceled Plans: A slew of new health care mandates, like maternity coverage for all, forced insurers to cancel about 5 million insurance plans. The public outcry resulted in a temporary two year extension of these plans.
- Fast Food Restaurants: Under the ACA, companies that offered insurance plans with limits below $750,000 in 2013, like McDonalds, were determined inadequate. To keep companies from dropping insurance completely and leaving low-income workers with no coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services granted 1,231 exemptions. The waivers covered 4 million individuals, about 3 percent of employee plans.
- The Poor: If you don’t make enough income to file a tax return or insurance would cost more than 8 percent of your income, you are exempted from the individual mandate.
- Congress and Congressional Staff: Under the ACA, officials would have to pay the full cost of exchange plans. But the Office of Personnel Management finalized a new regulation allowing the federal government to continue to contribute to health-care premiums if employees enrolled in the small business exchange.
- Private Labor Unions: In the closing days of 2013, the administration exempted a narrow form of insurance plans used only by labor unions from a fee in 2015 and 2016, forcing other employers to pay more.
- Volunteer Firefighters & First Responders: Under the ACA, any employer with more than 50 employees was required to provide insurance for every employee or face a fine under the employer mandate. Regulators exempted volunteer first responders from the mandate in February.
- Religious objectors willing to go to court: Pro-life business owners have been granted temporary injunctions from offering health coverage that includes abortion in 90 percent of court cases.
- Anyone Else Without Insurance: The latest “hardship” exemption to the individual mandate isn’t limited to people who used to have insurance. Anyone can claim it by noting they can’t afford insurance.
The ACA promised more affordable and quality care but with so many exemptions, it’s evident the law isn’t delivering.
But there is an alternative. States have been implementing successful health care reform that lowers costs and improve access to quality care- especially for the vulnerable Medicaid population.
Eliminating coverage mandates, empowering Medicaid patients to choose how they consumer care, and expanding state high risk pools to help those with chronic conditions are just a few ways states, not Washington will save our health care.