Last month Dakotans for Health pointed out the widespread harm that repealing the Affordable Care Act could do in North Dakota. Now Dakotans for Health, led by spokesman Adam Weiland, puts out figures showing how much damage South Dakota would suffer if our Attorney General Marty Jackley, North Dakota A.G. Wayne Stenehejm, and eighteen other Republican state attorneys general led by Texas get the Trump Supreme Court to overturn the ACA. According to DFH, even if your health insurance would be safe post-ACA, the insurance of the South Dakotan sitting next to you probably wouldn’t be:
358,000 South Dakotans live with a pre-existing medical condition… of those, 50,000 are children, and 87,400 are adults between the ages of 55 and 64.
Prior to the passage of the ACA, people with medical conditions such as pregnancy, dementia, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, depression could automatically be denied insurance coverage.
Because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance companies can not deny coverage or charge individuals and families more because of pre-existing health conditions [Dakotans for Health, press release, 2018.08.08].
Repeal the ACA, and insurance companies can go back to padding their profits by denying affordable coverage to the people who need it most. 358,000 South Dakotans with pre-existing conditions would have to cling to whatever coverage they have, because the moment they change jobs and seek individual coverage as self-employed people, poof! away goes their insurance, and no private insurer will cover them.
As former North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy said during DFH’s media tour up north in July, “We don’t think it’s unconstitutional for there to be a law protecting people against insurance companies.”
The harms to South Dakotans go well beyond the risk of becoming uninsurable again due to having a baby or a heart condition. Dakotans for Health has prepared this report chock full of stats on the positive impact the ACA is having in South Dakota and the harm Jackley would do by overturning it:
Here is how the Affordable Care Act is working in South Dakota:
19,000 South Dakotans gained health coverage because of the ACA.
Insurers can no longer deny or drop coverage because of a pre-existing condition. Because of the ACA, insurers in the individual market could no longer drop or deny coverage, or charge you more, because of a pre- existing condition. Roughly 350,000 South Dakotans have a pre-existing health condition.
Women no longer charged more than men. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer charge women more than men for the same care.
Ended annual and lifetime limits. Because of the ACA, insurers can no longer put annual or lifetime limits on the care you receive.
Young adults can stay on their parents’ plan until age 26. Because of the ACA, roughly 6,000 young adults in South Dakota have coverage because they can stay on their parents’ coverage until age 26.
Free preventive care. Because of the ACA, health plans must cover preventive services — like flu shots, cancer screenings, contraception, and mammograms – at no cost to consumers. This includes more than 390,000 South Dakotans, most of whom have employer coverage.
Comprehensive Coverage. Because of the ACA, insurers have to cover what are known as “essential health benefits,” such as maternity care, prescription drugs, and substance and mental health.
Tax credits are available to help people afford coverage. Because of the ACA, most people getting coverage on the marketplace qualify for tax credits to help pay for coverage.
Helping seniors afford prescription drugs. Because of the ACA, the Medicare prescription drug donut hole is closed. As a result, 12,563 South Dakota seniors are saving $12.5 million on drugs in 2016, an average of $994 per beneficiary [Dakotans for Health, “South Dakota Rural Health Report,” July 2018].
In the Texas lawsuit, A.G. Jackley is essentially recycling the arguments he crushingly lost in the Supreme Court against the ACA in 2012, hoping for some judicial activism from Justice Gorsuch and his next robed Trumpy buddy. Why an attorney general or any other elected official would put beating this ideological horse over the health and well-being of hundreds of thousands of South Dakotans is beyond me.
The upshot here is that even our votes for Attorney General could have an impact on public health. Democratic candidate Randy Seiler has said he disagrees with South Dakota’s lawsuit against the ACA. Elect Seiler in November, and he might be so busy protecting law and order that he might say it’s not in the public’s interest to keep expending A.G. resources on a lawsuit against a law the Supreme Court has already declared constitutional… and which the evidence has declared enormously beneficial to South Dakotans, North Dakotans, and the rest of America.
Related Listening: Learn more from Dakotans for Health driver Adam Weiland, who talked with Patrick Lalley about the challenge to the ACA on KSOO Wednesday.