What Happens to Medicare If the Affordable Care Act Is Overturned?

Experts say if the ACA is repealed or rescinded "it would be devastating for Medicare." Here's what might happen -- and how it could be costly for you.

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death heightened the stakes in a case scheduled to appear before the court Nov. 10 that could reverse improvements to Medicare and raise out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries. The case, California v. Texas, which was filed by 20 Republican-leaning states, challenges whether the Affordable Care Act can exist without the individual mandate to buy health insurance. A Republican-controlled Congress removed the financial penalty for those without insurance in 2017.

“If the ACA was repealed or rescinded in full, it would be devastating for Medicare,” says David Lipschutz, associate director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, which along with AARP and Justice in Aging filed an amicus brief supporting California and 16 other Democratic-leaning states defending the health care law. Many of the law’s provisions that strengthen the program’s fiscal solvency also strengthen consumer protections for beneficiaries, he says.

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Managing Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report

Siskos is an old hat with the Kiplinger brand. More than a decade ago, she spent eight years writing about personal finance for Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, including a monthly column—Starting Out—that served young adults. That was in her salad days. Now she's turned her attention to an audience she hopes to join in a decade or so: retirees. Siskos is the managing editor for Kiplinger's Retirement Report. In between, she broadened her personal-finance repertoire with real estate and investing stories at Old-House Journal, Investing Daily and U.S. News. She comes to Kiplinger by way of the Newseum, where she worked as an exhibit editor.