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Rep. Ami Bera in The Sacramento Bee: Republicans are plotting to destroy the Affordable Care Act despite record enrollment

As a doctor, I know firsthand how important it is for all Americans to have access to affordable health care. That’s why I was so excited to see that a record-breaking 21.3 million people, including nearly 1.8 million Californians, signed up for a 2024 health plan through Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces like Covered California — over 9 million more than when President Joe Biden took office. 

Thanks to Biden, millions of Americans are getting quality, affordable health care through the ACA at little to no cost. For $10 or less each month, 80% of enrollees have found coverage through the ACA, made possible by the president’s Inflation Reduction Act, which lowered health care premiums for people who buy coverage on their own. The Biden administration also invested in outreach and education to help people enroll, with a particular focus on historically underserved communities, including racial and ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+ individuals.

When the ACA was signed into law, over 20% of Sacramentans under the age of 65 did not have health insurance. Thanks to the ACA and the Inflation Reduction Act, that number is down to just 6%.

While millions of people are now enjoying the peace of mind and access to care that comes with coverage, Republicans are vowing to terminate the ACA if they take control of Congress and the White House in 2025 — resurfacing a battle they already lost in 2017 when they tried to repeal the ACA and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Repealing the ACA would have devastating and far-reaching consequences. In addition to over 40 million Americans losing affordable coverage, over 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions — including over 6 million Californians — would lose critical protections. Over 50,000 of my constituents and 3.8 million Californians would lose coverage through Medi-Cal expansion. Fifty million seniors would have to pay more for prescription drugs, and insurance companies could once again charge women higher premiums and impose annual and lifetime limits on benefits. These companies would also not be required to cover preventative care, such as vaccinations, prenatal care, contraception and cancer screenings.

Republicans in Congress are also attempting to repeal key health care measures of the Inflation Reduction Act that lowered premium costs for millions of families and prescription drug costs for seniors. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, insulin for seniors is now capped at $35 per month — welcome news for the more than 10% of Sacramento County residents with diabetes.

More people are relying on the ACA than ever before. My Democratic colleagues and I are committed to strengthening the ACA and making the Inflation Reduction Act’s cost-saving provisions for millions of American families and seniors permanent. 

Families should not have to choose between putting food on the table, paying rent and ensuring that they and their loved ones get needed medical care. 

We are at a crossroads on health care. As Americans enjoy new benefits, Democrats are focused on lowering costs and giving people peace of mind, while Republican lawmakers are plotting to erase all of this hard-fought progress by hiking insurance and drug prices and repealing the ACA altogether. The record-breaking number of people covered by the ACA is proof that prioritizing health care and lowering costs is what Californians need. 

Rep. Ami Bera, a physician, represents California’s sixth congressional district, encompassing Sacramento County