The Consequences of Obamacare Repeal to Florida Medicare Enrollees
Repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, has been a divisive political subject for many years. With Republicans controlling all branches of government, Obamacare’s demise would appear inevitable. But suddenly, the Affordable Care Act has become more popular than ever as people start to realize its many benefits. Is it perfect? No. Can it be improved; of course it can. An estimated 22 million Americans throughout the United States would lose health insurance if the law is repealed outright with no replacement. Not only would repealing the ACA affect those people, but its removal would have significant consequences on current and future Medicare beneficiaries.
Currently The Affordable Care Act includes provisions that require all insurers provide free preventative care to Florida Medicare recipients. Some common free preventative care measures that could be lost with a repeal of Obamacare include: flu shots, cancer screenings including colonoscopies, diabetes screenings, screening for common chronic diseases and more. Since 2013 approximately 37 million Medicare beneficiaries have benefited from this provision in the Affordable Care Act.
In the unlikely event that a full repeal gets thru all branches of government, Medicare recipients would once again be required to take on a greater percentage of the cost that occurs while in the coverage gap or Donut Hole of their prescription drug plan. Prior to the ACA, when Medicare recipients were in the donut hole, they were responsible for 100% of the cost of their prescription drugs. Under Obamacare, the percentage paid by Medicare Part D policy holders in the donut hole was capped at 50% beginning in 2011 and continues to decline every year until that coverage gap donut hole disappears completely in 2020. Since 2010 over 8 million Medicare recipients have saved approximately $11 billion on prescription drugs as a result of shrinking the prescription drug donut hole.
This was a great financial relief to many Florida seniors who depend on Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage and it is still unclear what, if anything; will be done to keep this safeguard in place if Obamacare is repealed or replaced. Obamacare has also helped eliminate the massive amounts of fraud associated with Medicare. Medicare fraud has sky-rocketed out of control in the years preceding the Affordable Care Act. Since the new healthcare law went into effect in 2010, the government has recovered approximately $10.7 billion due to fraudulent activity. Through new technology, enhanced screenings of insurers and providers, stricter sentencing on those who commit fraud, and additional resources, the government is committed to deterring fraud at all levels and making sure that Medicare stays sustainable for legitimate enrollees in years to come. Obamacare strengthens Medicare by reducing wasteful spending and providing better benefits. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, each Medicare beneficiary will save an average of $4,200 over the next decade thanks to regular wellness visits, covered preventative care, lower prescription costs and the reduction in wasteful spending. The reduction of fraud and the appropriate distribution of funding ensure that the Medicare trust fund will remain intact for many years to come.
So while it’s currently a highly political debate, one thing is certain. If Obamacare is fully repealed as is, it will have a major financial effect on the nation’s elderly population who depend on Medicare for their healthcare and prescription drug needs.