Health

US Uninsured Rate Hits Record Low In 2016

| by Robert Fowler

A new report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the national uninsured rate hit a new low in 2016, with the number of Americans without health insurance nearly being cut in half since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

The new study indicates the law has been successful in driving down the uninsured rate, despite Republican lawmakers' ongoing efforts to repeal and replace it with a new system.

On Feb. 14, the CDC released survey results recorded during the first nine months of 2016. The study found the rate of uninsured in the U.S. was 8.8 percent, a new all-time low. In 2010, when the ACA was first signed into law, the uninsured rate was at 16 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Roughly 20.4 million Americans gained health care coverage since 2010.

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That data indicates the Medicaid expansion, initiated in 2014, has been an accelerating force in providing Americans with health care coverage. The 31 states that accepted the Medicaid benefits saw their uninsured rates drop from 18.4 percent in 2013 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The 19 states where governors had declined the Medicaid expansion only had a drop from 22.7 percent uninsured to 17.5 percent during the same timeframe.

Since the 2016 presidential election, GOP lawmakers have pledged to repeal and replace the ACA with the help of the Trump administration. Republican House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has promised to replace the health care law with something better.

On Feb. 14, Ryan vowed on Capitol Hill to have a suitable replacement for the ACA before it is dismantled.

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"We will have a stable transition, where no one has the rug pulled out from under them while we work toward a better, more stable system," Ryan said.

On Feb. 13, Republican efforts to replace the ACA hit a new hurdle after a few dozen members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus announced they would only support the same repeal package that former President Barack Obama vetoed in 2016. That bill had called for a repeal of the ACA without any replacement provisions, Politico reports.

Health care experts warn that outright repealing the ACA without an immediate replacement could crash the health care market. Many Republican voters have voiced concern about losing some of the more popular components of the law, such as the mandate that providers cannot deny someone coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, has asserted that his colleagues should outright repeal the ACA and count on Democrats coming to the table later to negotiate a replacement.

"It's our hope that in doing so it will bring some others along for a replacement bill once they understand that it has been repealed," Meadows said. "That you get some Democrats and certainly more moderate Republicans to work in earnest with replacement."

While Republicans hold enough of a majority to repeal crucial components of the ACA, they would need Democratic cooperation to pass any replacement measures.

On Feb. 7, a Morning Consult poll found that while the ACA remains one of the most divisive laws in the country, many Americans still do not understand it. The survey found that 35 percent of respondents did not know that the ACA and Obamacare were the same thing, while 45 percent did not know that Congress was working to repeal it, The New York Times reports.

Sources: Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Politico / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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