If a lawsuit before the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act succeeds, some 260,000 Utahns would lose their health coverage. A new report from the nonpartisan Urban Institute estimates that would almost double the proportion of Utahns who are uninsured.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and a major recession, the Trump Administration and 18 states, including Utah, are asking the Supreme Court to strike down the entire ACA. Stacy Stanford, health policy analyst with the Utah Health Policy Project, said losing the program could be a disaster for the state's health care system.
"It's important to emphasize that we are in the middle of a pandemic, there is still a health and economic crisis all around us. And the Affordable Care Act has done its job," Stanford said. "And to think of it being ripped away is really worrisome."
The loss also would hurt hospitals and other health care providers. Utah's uncompensated care costs have fallen by 25% since the ACA was implemented.
Stanford said coverage losses also would hit people of color and low-income communities hardest. She said the ACA has particularly been effective as a safety net during the pandemic and the accompanying recession.
"We've brought people onto Medicaid expansion. We've covered people through the ACA. There are protections that have made it so that if there's a gap in coverage, you can't be locked out because of your pre-existing condition," she said.
Stanford said while there is a great deal of uncertainty as the case is pending before the high court, Utahns should not assume that it's going away any time soon.
"So this case is being heard November 10. However, there will not be a decision until, like, June. So when open enrollment happens, people should still get covered," she said. "Don't let this case deter you from getting the health care you need."
The report said losing the ACA wouldn't just harm enrollees. In addition to ending protections for pre-existing conditions, it would also allow insurance companies to reintroduce annual and lifetime limits on coverage, including for people who access health insurance through their jobs.