If the ACA goes, New Hampshire will suffer

Trump administration’s move to kill the law would be a gut punch to the Granite State

One of the greatest dangers facing New Hampshire is the one we are not talking about, and it poses a threat to our health, safety and economy.

The Trump administration’s Department of Justice is arguing at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the entire Affordable Care Act “should not be allowed to remain in effect.”

That could lead to a Supreme Court case next year that could bring down the entire Affordable Care Act.

If the new conservative court overturns the ACA, what would New Hampshire look like?

Immediately, almost 50,000 people who have purchased affordable coverage through the ACA could lose health coverage. Another 55,000 obtained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid and would lose coverage too. But it does not end there: No longer would insurers cover preventive care visits without a co-pay. You would have to pay again for 50 procedures that are now covered as preventive services. This includes vaccinations and cancer screenings. Add to that no more covered well-woman visits, domestic violence screening, breastfeeding equipment and contraception. Tens of thousands would lose access to treatment for drug addiction, alcoholism and behavioral health issues. Children under 26 would have no access to healthcare under a parent’s plan. Families could lose maternity coverage and newborn care.

Do you have a pre-existing condition? Many Granite Staters do. Right now, under the ACA, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a pre-existing condition. But if the ACA goes down, countless New Hampshire residents could lose their healthcare coverage and the cost to get new coverage would soar.

The consequences would be disastrous. New Hampshire, with a rapidly aging population, would have an even harder time luring younger people to come or stay here. Rural hospitals, already struggling, would face impossible economic issues, and businesses, adding up the cost of healthcare, would locate elsewhere.

Right now, New Hampshire ranks 24th in the nation for health costs; without the ACA, we would be uncompetitive compared to other states. Meanwhile, without access to treatment, the opioid epidemic would become worse, and have a huge societal toll.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. The the result would be less coverage, higher costs, jumps in uncompensated care at emergency rooms, and a shift of the healthcare burden to our businesses.

So start paying attention to the fate of the ACA. We can’t afford this societal, economic gut punch. There is a lot we can all do. We need to support our elected officials who are working to pass laws like Senate Bill 4 to protect our care. We need to stand with our elected officials who are working to save the ACA in Washington. But most of all, we need to urge our state leadership and attorney general to join more than 20 other states in a lawsuit to prevent the overturning of the ACA. This may be our best hope.

Jayme H. Simões lives in Concord.

Categories: Opinion