If Congress doesn't keep or replace the Affordable Care Act with a comparable law, Philadelphia will pay a high cost in life and well-being, Professor Robert Field testified at a Philadelphia City Council hearing on March 6.
Between the Medicaid expansion and the availability of marketplace policies, the ACA is preventing at least 3,525 deaths per year in Pennsylvania, Field said, citing projections published by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.
“In Philadelphia, the ACA’s effects have been especially dramatic,” Field said. “As of 2016, more than 166,000 City residents had gained coverage through the expansion of Medicaid, and more than 59,000 through the federal health insurance marketplace. That adds up to more than 225,000 residents, almost one in six, who can now access care that had previously been financially out of reach.”
Field added that the gains have been particularly striking among those earning between 100 percent and 150 percent of the federal poverty level, a group that previously faced the greatest barriers to health insurance and health care.
“Under the ACA, tremendous strides have been made in reducing health disparities, a perennial scourge of our health care system,” Field said, citing data from the Public Health Management Corporation showing that the uninsured rate of people in this "near-poor" category tumbled from nearly 28 percent in 2012 to 9.4 percent in 2015.
Philadelphians would receive less disease prevention and wellness promotion services if the Affordable Care Act is not replaced with a comparable system, Field said, urging Council to advocate for preserving the law.
The hearing was convened by City Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who chairs the Committee on Public Health and Human Services.