The country has not witnessed such a steep drop in the rate of uninsured residents in 50 years, according to the ranking member of a House committee investigating the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) launched a defense of Obamacare following a hearing this week organized by Republicans who want to see much of it reformed.
Pallone cited recent figures that show the number of uninsured in the U.S. has dipped below 10 percent.
In 2015, the Census Bureau reported that the number without health insurance coverage dropped to 9.1 percent, down from 10.4 percent the previous year. The number of Americans without insurance also dropped -- from 33 million to 29 million.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate has reached a historic low of 8.6 percent,” Pallone recently told Patient Daily.
In citing the 8.6 percent figure, Pallone, ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was referring to a 2016 first-quarter survey by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Our country has not seen such a steep drop in the uninsured rate since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid more than 50 years ago,” he said. “I’m proud of the significant progress we’ve made to expand access to quality, affordable health care, and I look forward to continuing to expand and improve access to health care.”
The joint hearing by two subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee was organized to examine the state of Obamacare -- six years after it was signed into the law, and three years since it was enacted.
Two reports were issued by the committee’s majority staff. Both looked at what Republicans described as the “health law’s greatest weaknesses: its unstable exchanges and collapsing co-ops.”
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) said House Republicans have “offered a better way to help patients get -- and keep -- health coverage.”
“Our solutions put patients first, improve the quality of care, lower health care costs, and restore freedom and flexibility,” Upton said. “It also keeps patients on their parents' insurance until they are 26 years old, and will not deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. We want to lead the world in cures and treatments, and our plan builds upon the important work outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act to help deliver cures now.”
At the hearing, however, Pallone claimed that the majority of people are content with the coverage they have.
“Since the enactment of the ACA, the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by 13 years,” he said. “In addition, unnecessary hospital readmissions in Medicare have fallen for the first time on record, resulting in 100,000 fewer readmissions in 2015 alone.”