Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Comentarios from Maria: A Historic Moment for Obamacare


The numbers speak for themselves: Obamacare is not just working, it’s thriving. According to the latest figures released last week by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 16.4 million Americans have obtained health coverage. This figure marks the biggest reduction in the rate of people with medical insurance in 40 years. The law’s current success is a historic moment for the country and for the Obama Administration, which has fought for a just and accessible healthcare system. Only days before the fifth anniversary of the Obamacare – otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – the positive fruits and tremendous advances for our society and our community are indisputable.

To contextualize the conditions of our community before the implementation of Obamacare, we should remember that 41.8 percent of Latinos did not have medical insurance, a number that well-exceeded the national percentage. Today, the number of Latinos without insurance has decreased by 12.3 percent, representing the largest decline among all other groups. This means that 4.2 million Latinos now have insurance thanks to a law that does not mandate a choice between one’s health and one’s financial security. The success of Obamacare within our community is in large part due to the expansion of Medicaid. In the 29 states where it has been expanded, millions of Latinos have benefitted. But several Republican states with greater percentages of Latinos – like Florida and Texas – are still opposed to the legislation.

Although the ACA has been under incessant attack by congressional Republicans from the onset, the law has proven to be functioning far better than anticipated. Several Republicans have promulgated the idea that Obamacare would bring the nation to bankruptcy, but the economic reality, according the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), has demonstrated the opposite. Obamacare will cost $142 billion (11 percent less than previously projected) over the next ten years.

Despite these advances, Republicans still have the audacity and the gall to continue trying to destroy a law that clearly and plainly benefits millions of Americans. Last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives revealed a budget, ironically titled “A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America,” that completely eliminates Obamacare without offering a viable alternative. They are also trying to defeat it before the Supreme Court with an absurd interpretation of the provisions which grant subsidies for the purchase of health insurance, though a handful of Republican governors have warned that if the Supreme Court removes those subsidies, it would cause chaos within their states.

Thanks to Obamacare, our community can have the comfort in knowing that the loss of a job or having a preexisting condition is not a disastrous sentence. Our community can concentrate its efforts and energy on the goals and aspirations that everyone deserves: to find and expand the American Dream for the whole family. Let’s hope that Republicans soon realize that to destroy Obamacare is to destroy the health and dreams of millions of Americans.

This column originally appeared in Spanish in The Washington Hispanic.