Employers overwhelmingly support ACA's pre-existing condition protections
A new Mercer survey of 600 employers found that 95% support Congress preserving coverage for pre-existing conditions as the Affordable Care Act calls for. The results come as the Trump administration's Department of Justice wants the courts to strike the entire health law, including pre-existing condition protections.
Nearly half of employers surveyed back expanded subsidies to help people pay for ACA plan coverage. Also, one-third believe the administration should stop expanding short-term health plans and 30% support more money for ACA exchange outreach efforts.
Most Americans get health coverage through their job, and making pre-existing condition protections a universal requirement "takes coverage availability off the table when people are making decisions to leave or stay in a job or look for a new one," according to the report.
The results come just days after the Department of Justice requested that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals strike down the entire ACA. Previously, the Trump administration only wanted the pre-existing condition exclusions removed. The American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and America's Health Insurance Plans all bashed the Trump administration's decision.
DOJ's legal filing is part of a court case that could lead to the end of the ACA. In December, a Texas judge's decision said the law was unconstitutional after Congress removed the individual mandate penalty in its 2017 tax overhaul. That decision was stayed pending appeal. Democratic attorneys general have defended the ACA. They filed a brief arguing that the landmark law is constitutional even with a toothless mandate.
That opposition to the ACA goes against current public opinion. After years of concerns about the act, Americans now back the health law. Kaiser Family Foundation said in its latest polling on the topic that about 53% of respondents gave a favorable view and 40% unfavorable. Individual provisions in the health law, including the exchanges and allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until 26, had the support of more than 80% of people surveyed. About two-thirds of respondents said pre-existing condition protections were "very important."
A recent Urban Institute report estimated that the number of uninsured Americans could skyrocket by nearly 20 million if the courts end the ACA. People covered by Medicaid and the ACA exchanges would be forced to find other insurance, but the report warned many won't be able to afford private insurance.
The coverage losses would hurt hospitals. Urban Institute predicted that hospitals would lose $50.2 billion, which would be an 82% increase compared to ACA levels.