Senate Republicans decided on Tuesday not to hold a vote on the latest bill that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), resulting in drastic coverage reductions, huge budget deficits for the state government, financial harm to hospitals and ultimately worse health outcomes for Washington residents.
This represented the last attempt for the Senate to repeal the ACA through reconciliation with 50 votes (plus a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Pence). Beginning in October, it will take 60 votes to do so, putting an ACA repeal further out of reach for the time being.
This temporary end to ACA repeal and replace legislation is positive for health care in our state and for our residents. Access to affordable health care coverage is a basic necessity of a healthy community. If patients are unable to access affordable health care, they will be less likely to get care in an outpatient setting and less likely to be able to address medical concerns until they become more serious and require a trip to the ER. This costs the entire system — and that means all of us — more money, and presumably puts those patients through undue suffering as they fall increasingly unwell.
However, the debate is far from over. There are any number of ways the repeal and replace debate could resurface in the coming days, months and years, once again calling for policies that would damage our health care system. If and when the time comes, we will need your help once more to advocate for our most vulnerable residents. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue the dialogue with our leaders and share the positive impacts the increases in access to health coverage have had on your communities.
WSHA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs