Recent Health Laws and Their Impact on the American People

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Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became the law of the land, there have been many lawmakers who have wanted to do away with the law.  Mostly, it has been members of the Republican Party who wanted to repeal it or drastically change the law.  One of the sections in the ACA required insurers to accept people with pre-existing conditions.  Another section required people to sign up for the law or face penalties for not signing up.  Forcing insurers to sign people with pre-existing conditions was not popular with Republicans, nor did they like the provision in the ACA that made it mandatory for people to sign up.  During the 2016 presidential campaigns, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate promised to repeal and replace the ACA with something much better.  People by that time had been living with the ACA for about four years.  When it came time to repeal the law, constituents found they actually liked the law and got very angry at their representatives for what they were about to do.  Instead, congressional representatives and senators did not repeal the law because their voters liked the law.  Recent legislation about healthcare has been to remove portions of the ACA making it ineffective in many areas and other legislation deals with the opioid drug crisis the country is facing; The 21st Century Cures Act is a ray of hope in a country that is leery of universal healthcare.

In the new Republican majority congress and senate in 2017, lawmakers tried overturning the ACA.  Because the public outcry was so large, the two bodies could not get up enough support to repeal the law.  So, when it came time to pass a new tax law, another of Trump’s promises, the Republicans were able to repeal the mandatory section that required people sign up for the ACA or face a fine.  Repealing that section of the law would effectively leave about 13 million people without access to healthcare.  With fewer people signing up for the ACA, it added to the public debt (Seervai and Blumenthal, 2018).  Moreover, Congress shortened the signup time for insurance to 45 days and reduced the number of people available to help people with their signups.  

One of the major healthcare crises in recent years has been deaths due to opioid overdoses.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2018), “in 2017 over 70,200 people died from opioid drug overdoses in the United States (U. S.)” (para 1).  President Trump declared the crisis a national emergency so that the country could have more funding to address the problems of overdosing.

The 21st Century Cures Act (CCA) was designed to accelerate the development of new cures for serious conditions and diseases (FDA, 2016).  Before this act, the development and testing of drugs in the U. S. took a long, laborious time.  Many people lost their lives waiting for new drugs to cure or control their conditions.  Apparently, this law allows for the process to be accelerated to help patients.  One of the provisions of the CCA allows for patients’ input into the process of approving a drug for public distribution (FDA, 2018).  To that end, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved two new cancer-fighting drugs that help in cases where patients’ cancer does not respond to other cancer treatments (Seervai & Blumenthal, 2018). 

In sum, healthcare legislation is a mixed bag.  On one hand, many lawmakers wanted to repeal the ACA, but constituents blocked that move.  Instead, lawmakers removed the mandatory sign up fine for those who did not want to sign up for the insurance.  Congress made the sign-up period shorter than in previous years and also made it harder for poor people to have access to help to sign up for the program.  The country experienced over 70,200 overdose deaths due to opioids in 2017.  President Trump declared it a national emergency to help deal with the crisis.  The number of people who die from these overdoses is increasing each year and it’s time to fight the human-caused epidemic.  Lastly, the 21st Century Cures Act accelerates the time a drug is developed and put on the market.  The act allows for patients’ input.  To that end, two new cancer T-cell drugs were put on the market to cure cancers that do not respond to other treatments.

References

CDC.  (2018).  Drug overdose deaths.  Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html 

FDA.  (2018).  21st Century Cares Act.  Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/

Seervai, S. and Blumenthal, D.  (2018).  10 ways healthcare in American changed in 2017. The Commonwealth Fund.  Retrieved from https://www.commonwealthfund.org/blog/2018/10-ways-health-care-america-changed-2017