Trump and His Promise for Better Health Care for the Disabled
“I would absolutely get rid of Obamacare” was the one and only answer given by president-elect Trump every time he was questioned about his predecessor, President Barrack Obama’s health care reforms. He emphasized that the ACA is nothing but a disaster and therefore the whole program must be repealed and replaced, except for two things, insurers covering those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ policy until the age of 26.
Despite previously being criticized for ridiculing a reporter and a 12-year old who are disabled, Trump pledged to provide people living with disabilities better health coverage than what is provided by the ACA. He promised that health care should be affordable for everyone, including people with disabilities. However, in no prior interviews nor political speeches has he clarified the details.
The disabled struggled long before the implementation of Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act that was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. 22% of adults have some kind of a disability. In addition, 4.1 million young people from the ages of 15 to 24 have disabilities. Some have a functional disability affecting their vision, cognition, or mobility while others have pre-existing health problems such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. It is not an exaggeration to assume that many Americans will be diagnosed with a disability at some time during their lives.
Disabled adults and young people are a growing population who live with a wide range of disabilities and their healthcare needs must be met. However, many of these individuals have often been denied insurance. Before the ACA, insurers were reluctant to provide comprehensive insurance policies to these individuals, categorizing them as “underwriting risks” and “classifying risks.”
Consequently, millions living with disabilities were either uninsured or underinsured. Even when insurers offered all-inclusive insurance plans, higher premiums were often charged which many could not afford.
For those with disabilities, the ACA is like a waterfall in the middle of a desert. It provides better benefits than its competitors, offers improved prescription coverage, medical equipment, assistive technology and long-term in-home care. These benefits are essential and can fundamentally improve the quality of life. Despite all the controversies, some of the new provisions in the ACA are a game changer in the healthcare industry.
The lives of millions of Americans with disabilities depend on how president-elect Trump will respond to their needs. Therefore, many Americans who have benefitted from the benefits of the ACA are uneasy since the Trump victory. Their concerns are not without merit. Disability rights were never a priority during Trump’s presidential campaign. Therefore many disabled American fear that their civil rights to have affordable health insurance will be discriminated against or denied and many assume that Trump will be able to deliver the Republicans long awaited wish to repeal the ACA.
The Republican Party, specifically in the House of Representatives, has a history of doing everything it can to repeal the ACA and have tried to delay or defund it persistently. However, they have yet to arrive at a practical consensus on how to replace it in order to achieve affordable universal coverage.
Moreover, contrary to Trump’s expressed belief that everyone is entitled to coverage, he has also proposed a plan to block-grant Medicaid which, in 2014, has spent approximately $80.4 billion in supporting in-home services for seniors and people with disabilities. Therefore, the worst case scenario would be the combination of Medicaid block-grant and the annulment of the ACA, without offering a substitute that is affordable for people with disabilities.
Lack of transitional assistance for those with disabilities is projected to result in millions losing health insurance. President Trump will then be held responsible for, very likely, millions of people with disabilities losing their health coverage.
If this dispute is not carefully addressed, it may become a bigger issue than what the Republicans anticipate. Trump had best act wisely and be willing to use the veto power! I chose to believe that we Americans are a compassionate and caring society but does the Trump administration share these values?