Today we’re shifting gears a bit and talking about what the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means to us and our children moving forward. Its political future has been uncertain ever since election night with no clear signals coming from the Capitol about plans to modify the landmark legislation. The “repeal and replace” rhetoric has largely been replaced with a more muted “repair Obamacare” (according to The New York Times), which doesn’t help the uncertainty we face regarding its future in our daily lives.
NPR recently published an article looking at Arizona as a case study in predicting what would happen to health insurance for children if Obamacare were to be repealed. It looked at the case of Vanessa Ramirez, a young mom of two who is an ovarian cancer survivor. She bought insurance for herself on HealthCare.gov, and her children are covered through Arizona’s KidsCare, the state’s version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. Her experience of being surprised with a cancer diagnosis as an otherwise totally healthy college student is a major influence in her life and the choices she makes for her kids.
Arizona may differ from other states in that it has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country and “more children enrolled in the federal marketplace than almost any other state,” according to NPR. This means that states with a high rate of children enrolled in government health insurance could be severely impacted by a repeal of the ACA. Without a solid plan in place, the number of children affected would be about 130,000 in Arizona alone. As a state, Arizona may be unique but it is not entirely unlike other states: it has a fast growing population with a significant number of people living near the poverty line.
Families like Vanessa’s will be the first to suffer if an ACA replacement does not adequately account for the hundreds of millions of dollars it will take to keep current beneficiaries on Medicaid. The ACA has brought coverage to thousands of children in Arizona in recent years. One could argue that children should be one of the most important priorities for health insurance legislation, since preventive care and annual physicals are indispensable in ensuring that children grow up healthy. Regardless of what state we live in, it is paramount that we provide health access for all children and families.