The Republican Party’s healthcare game is a long con. For six years, conservatives demonized the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without offering a viable alternative. Then, when they gained control of Congress and the White House, they came up with the disastrous American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would strip 23 million Americans of their health insurance.
The cynic in me believes this deeply unpopular proposal is part of a plan to play chicken with our healthcare system, allowing Republicans to finally destroy their ACA nemesis. Unfortunately, this reckless strategy is unfolding at the expense of tens of millions of Americans, including the small businesses at the heart of the U.S. economy.
We agree that improvements need to be made to the ACA, but lawmakers in D.C. are actively trying to undermine the law as much as possible. After President Donald Trump took office, multiple insurance companies pulled out of ACA marketplaces and blamed their decisions on uncertainty created by the GOP’s ongoing effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, as well as President Trump’s non-committal attitude toward the future of reimbursing insurers for subsidies for low-income customers.
The result is that we’re already seeing instability in the marketplaces. In the past month alone, Iowa’s ACA marketplace lost three carriers, Aetna said it would stop offering all individual plans in 2018, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City pulled out of the Missouri ACA marketplace and Anthem announced plans to exit Ohio’s marketplace, leaving 18 Ohio counties with no insurer on the ACA marketplaces.
A shaky individual healthcare market has the potential to wipe out millions of businesses owned by solo entrepreneurs because many of these small business owners depend on that market for their healthcare needs.
Indeed, one of the most significant byproducts of the ACA is that it helped end “job lock,” allowing many workers who felt anchored to a job because of a benefits package to go into business for themselves since they could no longer be denied health insurance. In fact, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation predicted that the number of self-employed Americans would be 1.5 million greater in 2014 thanks to the ACA.