As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit prepares to decide the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) this week, it’s time for a check-up on how the law has expanded affordable coverage for low-income older adults. Our new issue brief, 10 Year Check-Up: The Affordable Care Act Has Enhanced Access to Quality Health Care for Low-Income Older Adults, discusses all the ways this landmark legislation has improved the health and economic security of older adults. The brief also discusses how the ACA has become so ingrained in the overall health system, that without the law, the system itself would collapse.
The issue brief provides a detailed look at how the ACA has expanded affordable coverage through Medicaid to more people and made it possible for more older adults to age at home and in their communities instead of in nursing facilities. Under the ACA, older adults also are protected against being charged more for pre-existing conditions and being denied essential health benefits. Low-income older adults who receive both Medicaid and Medicare get better care coordination and more help with prescription drugs. Additionally, the ACA expanded Civil Rights protections for LGBTQ and limited English proficient seniors, and stepped up oversight of nursing facilities, among other protections.
This paper shows how, after 10 years, the ACA is woven deeply into every health care program on which older adults rely. Without it, more older adults would lose their coverage, pay more for premiums and prescription drugs, be at greater risk of institutionalization, and lose many ground-breaking consumer protections. We must continue to work together to strengthen and protect this foundational program.