As it has since 2016, the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) again expressed concern for the future stability of high-quality, person-centered, and affordable health care should bipartisan collaboration falter following a federal court ruling last Friday, which jeopardizes important gains under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The AGS is not alone. A host of legislators, policy experts, healthcare stakeholders, and older adults, families, and caregivers across the country have also called for swift action to clarify and appeal the decision, which questioned the constitutionality of the ACA after its "individual mandate" for health insurance was repealed in 2017. Though this week's district court ruling does not immediately strike down the systems put in place by the ACA--systems which have been critical to securing health coverage for more Americans, including older adults--it does risk throwing our health care into greater chaos without swift, bipartisan action on effective solutions.
"First and foremost, we want to assure our members and the older adults and caregivers they work with that the ACA still remains the 'law of the land.' The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made this clear, and we at the AGS will do all we can to support high-quality, person-centered, and affordable care solutions moving forward," noted Nancy E. Lundebjerg, MPA, Chief Executive Officer of the AGS. "If you purchased an 'exchange plan' prior to the Dec. 15 deadline--or if you reside in a state that has extended deadlines for enrollment--those plans will still go into effect in 2019, and will remain in effect pending further legal action. Know that the AGS will continue to lend its voice and insights to the future of that action, which must protect health, safety, and independence for us all as we grow older."
The ACA has improved access to health insurance for more than 20 million Americans through the expansion of Medicaid and the introduction of an insurance marketplace. Several critical elements of the law serve the growing needs of older adults specifically, from its closing of the Medicare prescription "donut hole" (which previously required personal payment for all out-of-pocket prescription costs up to a yearly limit) to its elimination of cost-sharing deductibles or copayments for vital preventive health services. The ACA also ushered in a host of reforms aimed at improving care quality and efficiency for Americans covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or both of the nation's largest insurers, which meet the needs of older adults and those living in poverty.