FAH Hospital Policy Blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America's hospitals and the patients we serve.

Medicaid Expansion | ACA/Coverage | FAH Policy Blog Team

New Episode: The Survival of the Affordable Care Act

A discussion with Ron Pollack, Families USA Chair Emeritus

The Affordable Care Health Act (ACA), signed into law by former President Barack Obama in 2010, has faced many challenges in both the courts and in public opinion polls since it became law more than a decade ago as now a majority of Americans, 54% support the law. But how has ACA withstood all of its challenges, including the most recent one?

In the latest episode of Hospitals In Focus, Ron Pollack, Chair Emeritus of Families USA and an early supporter and proponent of the ACA, discussed everything from the basic tenets of the law to how it survived  several legal challenges and what it will mean to access to affordable coverage in the future.

“Now that this third Supreme Court decision has been rendered and it’s clear the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” said Pollack in a recent interview with FAH CEO Chip Kahn. Pollack also discussed the history of the overhaul of the health coverage system. “Hopefully what we experienced after 1964 after Medicaid and Medicare were enacted, and it took Arizona a while to come into the program.”

As the challenges to the ACA have seemed to subside, Pollack focused on what the ACA has done so far for patients and those facing high premiums. “I think the key thing that has kept the program that was developed through the Affordable Care Act viable is that a lot of people are getting help. There are now over 20 million people who are getting help from the Affordable Care Act. Some are getting it through the expansion of Medicaid with the states that have decided that they were going to expand the program. There were very significant subsidies provided for people who were perhaps ineligible for Medicaid, but still could not afford premiums.”

Pollack then turned his attention from the basics of ACA to the next steps required to make the law’s subsidies and expansions permanent. He focused on the refusal of 12 states to expand Medicaid, staying hopeful that they may eventually expand as they did in the original fight over Medicaid and Medicare. He also called affordable coverage provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act “the most significant improvement that’s been made in the Biden administration, but it’s only temporary”. He continues, “people are not having to pay such a large portion of their income for premiums, and especially for people at the lower end of the income scale, that makes quite a difference.”