What the heck is going on?

The U.S. Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments on whether the ACA is constitutional. There are three ways they could rule on this…

1. That it is fully constitutional and is allowed to remain a law

2. it is completely unconstitutional and will go away completely

3. that certain parts of it are unconstitutional and no longer apply.

But what does this mean for Montana, and for Bridgercare?

First, a little backstory: The Affordable Care Act (the ACA) is a healthcare law that was enacted back in March 2010. Its goal is to make affordable health insurance available to more people, expand the Medicaid program to provide health insurance to more people than ever before (which provides health insurance to low-income adults), and support innovation that will lower the costs of healthcare.

Flash forward to today: the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the case California v. Texas. This case challenges the ACA’s individual mandate, which basically requires you to have some form of health insurance.

 

But what does this mean for Montana?!

If the ACA were to be repealed…

  • 125,000 Montanans could lose health insurance coverage (in the middle of a pandemic!)
  • 13,000 Montana children could lose their coverage (almost 3 million kids nationwide have gained coverage thanks to the ACA!)
  • As of August 2020, 86,533 Montanans had enrolled in Montana’s Medicaid -without the ACA, that coverage for our low-income community members would just go away.
  • Montanans would lose crucial federal health care funding – an estimated reduction of $1.1 billion in the first year alone.
  • Many of the people who have lost jobs so far in the pandemic are young adults and low income workers – these young people would be especially vulnerable to losing coverage when they’ve already been among the hardest hit by Covid-19
  • Our Indigenous communities would be harmed. As a result of the ACA and increased healthcare coverage, nearly 15,000 eligible Indigenous Montanans have had access to a comprehensive range of health care services at locations across the state. Not only does this have the potential to help close the staggering Native American health disparities gap, but it also brings much-needed health care dollars to support clinics serving our Native American neighbors and friends.
  • Before the ACA, insurance companies maintained lists of so-called deniable medical conditions. If someone had one or more ‘deniable’ conditions, they were automatically denied health insurance coverage. Common ‘deniable’ conditions included:
    • Pregnancy (say what?!), alcohol or drug abuse with recent treatment, dementia, arthritis, cancer, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hemophilia, hepatitis, diabetes, paralysis, severe obesity, sleep apnea, AIDS/HIV, kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, pending surgery or hospitalization, and muscular dystrophy… the list goes on.

 

So… what does this have to do with Bridgercare?

Here at Bridgercare, we’ve seen firsthand how the ACA and Medicaid Expansion has made a difference for our community and patients! These programs have been an incredible tool for lifting up so many people and allowing them to live the lives they always dreamed of, and supported folks in taking their health into their own hands.

Here are just a few ways it does that:

  • Access to birth control helps our young people avoid an unwanted pregnancy, allowing them to finish high school and for many, go to college or a trade school. We all know the value of education and how this kind of schooling benefits individuals with higher salaries and greater job opportunities in the future.
  • The ACA and Medicaid provide freedom and mobility to some of our most vulnerable community members. Evidences shows that people experiencing intimate partner violence often stay with their abusive partner because they might otherwise be homeless or without job security. These fears are amplified when survivors have children they love dearly, who they want to keep safe and warm and fed. The ACA and Medicaid make sure access to healthcare for survivors and their families is not a barrier that prevents them from leaving their partner when they are ready.
  • Due to the pandemic, we have seen patients being laid off, and losing their main source of income and health insurance. This rapid decrease in healthcare coverage and patient ability to pay makes the ACA and Medicaid Expansion more important than ever before!

When you support the ACA and Medicaid, you keep clinics like Bridgercare strong. You keep healthcare affordable and accessible to thousands of Montana’s who wouldn’t otherwise have the care, education, and support they need.

If you are alive right now, which we assume all of you reading this are, these programs affect YOU. Even if you don’t use the ACA or Medicaid, you might have a family member (or a coworker or your child’s best friend or maybe your favorite server at the local pizza place) who relies on these programs for health insurance coverage.

Healthcare is a both a human right and economic simulant (win win win) as it protects our ability as individuals to work, raise a family, and help make our communities strong and vibrant. And THAT is what the ACA means to Montana!

 

P.S. – Open Enrollment through the ACA is open RIGHT NOW! If you have questions about getting covered, you have until December 15th to enroll – so don’t delay! Our Certified Enrollment Counselor, Tracie, can help you find coverage that’s right for you and your family. Call her at 406-587-0681 ext 120 or email at tweiss@bridgercare.org 🙂