2017 Affordable Care Act Expectations: Massachusetts
In the wake of a failed attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans are considering whether to try again or leave the law in place. In the meantime, here's what Massachusetts residents need to know about “Obamacare.”
Obamacare has not been repealed.
Although house Republicans introduced a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, it did not gain enough support. This means the ACA is still U.S. law. What's more, most experts believe it will be quite difficult - if not impossible - for lawmakers to change the legislation.
Why didn't it pass?
The new legislation faced opposition on two fronts: Democrats who thought it changed too much and conservative Republicans who believed it didn't change enough. Ultimately, this combined opposition prevented the new law from gaining enough votes.
What does it mean for Massachusetts?
Unlike many states, Massachusetts runs its own exchange, called Massachusetts Health Connector. This exchange predates the Affordable Care Act by several years and is believed to be a basic blueprint for the ACA. Massachusetts also has a very robust exchange, with many more participating insurance carriers compared to most states. Massachusetts residents also enjoy access to federal ACA subsidies, while some - depending on their income - also have access to state-sponsored subsidies via ConnectorCare.
Will it last?
While the ACA currently remains in place, its future is uncertain under the Trump Administration. Some experts predict that approximately 350,000 Massachusetts residents might lose coverage if the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and premium subsidies were repealed without being replaced with something comparable.
Since the state created its own healthcare reform before the ACA, these state-based regulations would remain intact even without the ACA. Over the years, however, the state has adapted its plan to work alongside the ACA. In turn, MassHealth and ConnectorCare rely on significant federal funding that might disappear if the ACA is ultimately repealed. Again, however, while no one knows for sure, there appears to be inadequate support for repeal and replace legislation, at least for the rest of 2017.
Can I Still Get Health Care?
Despite so much uncertainty, the ACA currently remains unchanged. Open enrollment has ended for 2017; however, coverage is still available for people with qualifying events. To see if you might be eligible for health care coverage outside the yearly open enrollment period, visit https://www.healthcare.gov.