Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a centerpiece of the Republican message. From the 60-plus times House Republicans have voted on an Obamacare to Ted Cruz wanting to murder the law in a back alley, the GOP has made it evident that 6 years of improvement in America’s healthcare system is something they’d rather not have.
But each year that the Affordable Care Act stays law, the harder it becomes to repeal it. That’s because millions of Americans have already gotten covered thanks to the ACA, and the number of people with health insurance enabled by the ACA is only continuing to grow. That is certainly the case here in Texas, where, despite Republican leaders’ best efforts, millions of Texans are enrolling in health insurance through the ACA marketplace. This year, 1.3 million Texans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Overall, the state saw an 8.4% increase in enrollments this year compared to 2015. Several Texas cities saw even larger increases — enrollment in Austin jumped 24.4%, and Dallas-Fort Worth’s enrollment went up 14.4%.
These Texans are part of the larger 12.7 million Americans who enrolled in ACA health coverage for 2016, 4 million more than last year. That includes 2.7 million 18-to 34 year olds, whose participation in Obamacare is key for the law’s success.
And yet, despite these important improvements, many challenges still remain here in Texas. Though enrollment in private insurance plans through the ACA marketplace is going up, insurance companies are limiting the networks and coverage they offer through those plans in an effort to contain costs, with no oversight from the state. Furthermore, Greg Abbott’s continued refusal to expand Medicaid is leaving millions of Texans without access to health insurance, and causing Texas to fall even further behind the rest of the country in terms of our population’s health, economic prosperity, and more.
These success stories show us why it is so important for us to protect the victories of the Affordable Care Act. The law may not be perfect, but it has caused a tremendous shift in the way our health care system functions, including a dramatic step forward in the number of people who now have access to health insurance. If Republicans had their way, 1.3 million Texans would be left to fend for themselves, against employers and insurance companies who would rather look out for their profits than their people. But as long as Greg Abbott and his ilk continue to find ways to undermine the ACA, these victories aren’t the end of the fight — they’re just the beginning.