Healthcare Reform: The Affordable Care Act
“Your family’s health and prosperity depends on that of everyone.”
The United States has just been through a recession that has left many Americans without jobs, financial security, and adequate healthcare. What could be a better time to see that every American has adequate healthcare? President Obama promised during his campaign to reform healthcare. His goals were to protect citizens from insurance company abuses, see that every citizen had adequate healthcare, and ensure that healthcare was affordable. It was up to Congress to write the details of the law.
For those who claim making law is like making sausages, the Affordable Care Act is more than an apt example. In the 1990’s, Hillary Clinton tried to reform healthcare – but attempts at reform stalled when Republicans came up with an alternate bill and the opportunity passed with no decision being made. In 2010, Congress used many of the ideas of the Republican bill to create the Affordable Care Act. Many of those ideas formed the basis of the Massachusetts health care bill that Governor Romney signed into law in 2006. The Affordable Care Act is certainly not ideal, but it came about as a series of compromises necessary to get it through Congress and avoid a filibuster in the Senate.
Controversies: Much of the controversy over the Affordable Care Act was about things that didn’t really exist in the law. It did not create death panels, provide public funds for abortions, provide payments to undocumented immigrants, take away fundamental rights, or threaten to bankrupt the country. Although there were many claims that the affordable care act will greatly increase the deficit, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the affordable care act would decrease the projected deficit by $138 billion over the first 10 years and by approximately $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. However, the laws constitutionality was a serious question – and several states filed suit claiming that the federal government could not require citizens to purchase health insurance. The lawsuits reached the Supreme Court and in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 6/28/2012, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. It ruled that the penalty for not purchasing insurance was a tax, and that Congress had a right to impose taxes.
Benefits: Now that the Affordable Care Act has been declared constitutional and will become law , below is a checklist from Whitehouse.gov that summarizes what the affordable care act might mean for you:
The Future: There is still concern that the Affordable Care Act does not do enough to control the insurance costs or reduce the cost of care. The healthcare exchanges should provide more competition, and the 80/20 rule means that at least 80% of the premiums must be paid out in healthcare services. There are also some intangible benefits to health care reform that may materialize in the future:
- It would cut the unpaid bills for emergency services. Currently, emergency rooms are required by law to treat everyone, and those without medical insurance often use them for medical care when they cannot pay. Emergency room care is expensive and those costs must be passed on to paying customers.
- It would improve the competitiveness of American companies. Most working Americans obtain health insurance through their employers; however, this puts U.S.businesses at a disadvantage with foreign competitors who do not provide health insurance for their workers. Small companies have the added disadvantage that they cannot negotiate as low rates as larger companies.
- It would reduce bankruptcies. A Harvard study found that about 50% of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by illness and unpaid medical bills. Bankruptcies affect everyone because the health providers, banks, businesses, and credit card companies who lose money in the bankruptcy pass the cost on to the rest of us.
- It would improve everyone’s health. Your family’s health depends on the health of everyone. You and your family will likely come into contact with thousands of people during this next year. People without health insurance are less likely to receive immunizations and are much more likely to have untreated communicable diseases.
More information: Here is some additional information from Whitehouse.gov with links to the topic: ”
- Insurance companies no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men.
- Soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
- Preventive care will still be covered free of charge by insurance companies–including mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors.
- By August, millions of Americans will receive a rebate because their insurance company spent too much of their premium on administrative costs or CEO bonuses.
- 5.3 million seniors will continue to save $600 a year on their prescription drugs.
- Efforts to strengthen and protect Medicare by cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse will remain in place.
- 6.6 million young adults will still be able to stay on their family’s plan until they’re 26.
A major impact of the Court’s decision is the 129 million people with pre-existing conditions and millions of middle class families who will have the security of affordable health coverage.
We should also remember that under today’s ruling, having health insurance is and will continue to be a choice. If you can’t afford insurance or you’re a small business that wants to provide affordable insurance to your employees, you’ll get tax credits that make coverage affordable. But if you can afford insurance and you choose not to purchase it, the taxpayers will no longer subsidize your care for free.”
Research Credit: Barbara Moore
(C) 2012 J.C. Moore
Tags: Affordable Care Act, congressional Republicans, Healthcare reform, Hillary Clinton, Kathleen Sebelius, Mitt Romney, Pres. Obama, Reducing Bankruptcies, Reducing insurance rates, Supreme Court, The 80/20 insurance rule