On March 25, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that 11.4 million Americans signed up for health coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) federal and state exchanges for 2019 – representing a 300,000-person drop from 2018.
States that relied on platforms managed by the federal government saw the greatest decline, as advertising and outreach budgets for the exchanges were cut drastically.
The decrease was expected, given the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back the ACA by allowing cheaper, less-comprehensive policies to flourish. The relatively strong state of the U.S. economy also means that more people have jobs that provide health insurance; others have coverage under recent state expansions of Medicaid.
Democrats and Republicans alike are divided on the issue as the 2020 election approaches. Some Democrats, like Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), expressed strong support for the ACA on the ninth anniversary of its passage in late March. Others are concerned that it could draw support away from a government-run Medicare for All system that is gaining support.
Meanwhile, Republicans are split between a desire to repeal the ACA and fear that doing so could open them to damaging attacks from the Democrats during the upcoming campaign.
President Donald Trump called for the law’s repeal in his 2020 budget request and his administration is supporting a lawsuit that questions its constitutionality.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2019.