Republican legislators are currently on a crusade to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a move the Congressional Budget Office estimates will increase the number of uninsured Americans to 32 million by 2026.
Repealing the ACA would eliminate a number of important provisions, including coverage for adults under 26 via their parents' plan, the inability to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and the expansion of Medicaid.
However, destruction of the ACA will also mean Americans can say goodbye to several other services they might not even realize are part of President Barack Obama's landmark legislation. Here are just a few examples of some lesser-known tenants set by the ACA.
Publicized calorie counts
Want to know the number of calories in your dinner before you order it? You can now find out — thanks to the ACA. Beginning in December 2016, the law required restaurant chains with more than 20 locations to provide calorie counts for all standard menu items. The provision has some exceptions, including many alcoholic drinks, daily specials and fare sold on airplanes or at food trucks.
Studies have revealed that calorie labeling on menus has no significant effect on calorie consumption, but the provision is a strong move for nutritional transparency in the food industry.
Coverage for foster children
While the ACA's provision allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance until age 26 is well-known, many may not realize the legislation also extends to children raised in foster care. Under the ACA's Medicaid expansion, children who were in foster care and have no legally binding ties to a family are eligible for Medicaid coverage until they turn 26.
Benefits for nursing mothers
As new mothers return to work following the birth of a child, the ACA makes it easier for them to breastfeed. For one year following their child's birth, employers are required to allow mothers to take breaks for the purposes of expressing breast milk, according to the Department of Labor. In addition, they must provide a private space — other than a bathroom — where mothers can do so without intrusion. The ACA also compels health care providers to offer breastfeeding support and equipment and to cover the cost of a breast pump.
The ACA officially established the Personal Responsibility Education Program, the first federal funding stream for educational programs that teach about how to prevent unplanned pregnancies. While previous federal funding has focused solely on abstinence-only programs, PREP helps fund curriculums that educate Americans about contraception, too, according to Advocates for Youth.
The program, which the ACA dictated would receive $75 million annually over the course of five years, also stipulates that PREP-funded programs must cover other adult-preparation subjects, including healthy relationships, financial literacy, healthy life skills and educational and career success.
The ACA has extended coverage for children and patients with developmental disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy. Prior to the ACA, insurers had to cover rehabilitation services, but not care that helped patients gain functions they never had, such as speech therapy for autistic children who never learned to talk, according to NPR.
The ACA now defines these procedures and treatments as "habilitative services and devices," one of the 10 essential health benefits all health care providers — both on and off the ACA marketplace — must cover.
The ACA encourages employers to promote healthy living by providing grants to small businesses — those with less than 100 full-time employees — to help subsidize workplace wellness programs. This includes policies that encourage physical activity and healthy eating, health awareness initiatives like preventative screenings, or seminars and self-help materials to help change unhealthy behaviors.
The ACA also allows employers to vary health care premiums for employees based on participation in wellness programs or ability to meet other health-related standards.
Under the ACA, women can no longer be charged more for insurance policies simply because of their gender — and preventative services such as birth control and mammograms are now covered with no out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, women purchasing a new insurance policy now have the freedom to choose from any in-network primary care physician, OB/GYN or pediatrician without a referral.
Accountability for nonprofit hospitals
As registered nonprofits, many hospitals are eligible for tax-exempt status under the reasoning they provide "community benefits." The ACA now makes sure these hospitals are actually providing the benefits they boast. Under the ACA, nonprofit hospitals must conduct "community needs assessments" every three years to develop strategies to meet those needs. Should hospitals fail to document the steps they've taken or report them to the Internal Revenue Service, they could be subject to a $50,000 penalty.