Washington, D.C. — Since the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have been scrambling to fill her seat with a conservative justice who will side with them in repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in California v. Texas, which the court will hear on November 10th.
The possible repeal of the ACA comes as the disability community is expected to grow by the greatest number of people in 30 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Insurers will likely now consider the more than 7 million people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to have a preexisting condition, potentially leaving them unable to obtain or maintain insurance if the ACA is repealed.
Ahead of the hearings to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement, a new column from Rebecca Cokley, director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, looks at the consequences of repealing the ACA for the 61 million Americans living with a disability. They include:
- Limiting the freedom of people with disabilities to change jobs; without the ACA, disabled people would have no guarantee of insurance in a new job due to rules around preexisting conditions.
- Hurting young adults with disabilities, who would no longer be eligible to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, possibly leading to a return to institutionalization for some members of the disability community.
- Eliminating support for survivors of interpersonal or gender-based violence, many of whom are members of the disability community.
- Returning to annual or lifetime caps on coverage. Many disabled people, including disabled children, reached these caps at young ages, putting a huge financial burden on themselves and their families and sometimes leading to institutionalization.
- Limiting many disabled people’s access to Medicaid.
- Erasing the ACA’s essential health benefits provisions, which ensure that all Americans are covered for disabilities such as behavioral health issues and chronic health conditions such as diabetes.
“The ACA is the most important piece of legislation for disabled people since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and in some ways even rivals the ADA in importance for our community,” said Cokley, “Repealing the ACA would mean a return to the days when many disabled people were unable to afford the medical care they needed, unnecessarily institutionalized, and unable to pursue their careers out of fear of losing insurance. It is particularly cruel that President Trump and Leader McConnell are working to repeal the ACA in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic. Millions of people are acquiring disabilities for the first time or seeing their disabilities compounded by COVID-19. It’s no exaggeration to say that repealing the ACA will lead millions of disabled people to suffer or die.”
Read: “Repealing the ACA Would Create Chaos for the Disability Community During a Pandemic” by Rebecca Cokley
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj.