This month, the Supreme Court received briefs in a case seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought last year by 18 Republican lead states, including South Carolina. In addition to briefs filed by states backing the case, the Trump administration also submitted a brief asking for the ACA to be overturned. A decision to take away millions of people’s healthcare couldn’t come at a worse time for the country or the palmetto state, which is experiencing surges in COVID-19 diagnoses and hospitalizations.
The ACA is a fundamental part of the fabric of the American health care system alongside Medicare and Medicaid. Overturning the program would have devastating consequences for everyone. More than 23 million people would lose their health care coverage nationwide, including over 200,000 people in South Carolina, who have recently gained coverage through the ACA during the economic crisis stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. It would also end protections for 133 million people with pre-existing health conditions, including COVID-19 survivors who may suffer long-term effects from the virus. The second order consequence of the loss of these protections is healthcare providers having to provide more uncompensated care, which will indirectly make everyone pay more for healthcare. In South Carolina, this puts rural hospitals at greater risk of closure, which would have negative consequences that ripple throughout our healthcare system.
Instead of needlessly trying to overturn the law of the land and the pillar of our healthcare system through lawsuits, we should act to strengthen and expand the ACA. House Democrats have recently proposed a bill that would make access to high quality health care more equitable by lowering the cost of coverage for working- and middle-class families. We should think about healthcare policy this way, not just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, but because affordable access to healthcare is best for everyone, whether they be individuals, families, or communities. Most importantly, it’s the morally right thing to do.
At South Carolina Appleseed, we will continue to fight for these positive changes, while fighting the mindless and harmful efforts to take away millions of people’s healthcare. We stand with the ACA and hope the Supreme Court upholds the program.