Thursday marked a historic day in this nation’s history. The Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional, ensuring that the foundations for health care reforms remain in place. What it has also done is bring out the evil and visceral lies from the right. Let’s not pretend their rhetoric is anything more than just a rallying point to attempt to stir up their base. The sad part is the electorate in this country is no longer interested in truths. They’re too lazy to look up truths and, for that very reason, I doubt any of them will read this blog but I’m running with it anyways. So the question remains of what the Affordable Care Act is and what it isn’t.
First of all, it is not a government takeover of health care. Private insurance companies (with no government run options) will compete in insurance exchanges that each state will set up. However, many states have blocked introducing these exchanges, Alabama being one of them. This will force insurance companies to have to compete with other companies to keep their prices lower to be competitive to ensure that they get your policy. It will stop one company from having a monopoly on a state, similar to how Blue Cross Blue Shield has in Alabama which covers just over 93% of Alabamians. The auto insurance industry has been forced to compete for policies after states began to require drivers to carry insurance. The results have been lower premiums for drivers because of increased coverage of drivers and competition forcing companies to lower prices. If you don’t think the auto insurance company is competitive, just turn on a television. You can’t go through a commercial break without seeing the Flo on the Progressive commercials or the gecko on the Geico commercials.
It also isn’t the largest tax increase in history, which so many from the right have said. The truth is, that for the majority of Americans it isn’t a tax increase at all. The Medicare tax increase in 2013 affects individuals that make over $200,000 a year. The 40% tax increase in 2018 is only for individuals with the “Cadillac Plans” which is the policies over $10,000 for an individual (which no every day American would have). There is a tax increase on people that tan, probably one of the only increases a lot of people see. The truth is the healthcare bill isn’t a very large tax increase after all. It equates to a .49% increase of total GDP. There have been at least 10 other policies since 1940 that have been passed that have been larger tax increases by both sides of the aisle. To keep with the GOP’s comparisons of President Obama’s policies to President Reagan’s, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 was a .8% increase of GDP and the Crude Oil Windfall Profit Tax of 1980 was a .5% increase of GDP…both more than “Obamacare.”
And lastly it doesn’t add trillions of dollars to the national debt as Mitt Romney and so many others claim. He’s extorting the facts and twisting them. Here’s an example of what he’s doing. Let’s pretend you have an overdue library book that you’re being charged a dollar a day for every day that it’s late. Pretend nothing ever changes and you go ten years without turning in the book. You would have quite a large amount of debt due. Now pretend that the library passed a new policy lowering the charge for overdue books from one dollar a day to just fifty cents a day. You then go ten years without turning in the book. You would STILL be accumulating debt but it wouldn’t be as much. That’s how the health care plan is being described by Romney. Obviously health care is adding debt, but with the new law in place, that debt isn’t growing as fast as it would have had nothing been done. So if he really believes it’s adding $500 billion dollars in debt, that means it would have added $700 billion dollars had nothing been passed (yes I made that number up just for an example).
So what is it? It is a chance for all people to gain affordable health insurance. A lot of people claim that they don’t want to spend their hard earned money on something they don’t need (while texting from their new iPhone, updating their status on Facebook from their laptop, and driving a car they can barely afford) but people said the same thing about auto insurance. It allows children to remain on their parents insurance until they reach the age of 26. It allows people over 26, who may not be able to find full time work and have to work a part time job to be re-eligible for Medicaid. It allows people the ability to benefit from lower premiums through the healthcare exchanges. It allows them to receive free preventative care, such as mammograms, Diabetes testing, HIV testing, and many other diseases. It forces insurance companies to cover individuals who may have a pre-existing condition, such as cancer. It also expands Medicare benefits for seniors, closing the donut hole that many people fall into when buying their medical supplies. It allows small businesses tax credits if they choose to purchase insurance for their workers (it doesn’t require small businesses to purchase it for them but gives them the ability to afford to). It eliminates lifetime limits on individual’s premiums. For example on some insurance plans before, they may have had a $5 million dollar lifetime cap. If someone gets cancer, they could blow through that $5 million mark and lose their coverage. It also forces insurance companies to go before a panel and justify any rate increase on premiums to stop them from having total control of hiking up prices.
You’ll notice that in the beginning I said that the Supreme Court’s ruling allows the foundations for health care reform to remain in place and that’s because there is still more work to be done. We will see the law tweak and adjusted in the future as more and more of it is enacted. There also must be major laws introduced that places stricter regulations on insurance companies. This is a great start to health care reform, but it’s just the first step. That’s why we must make sure that President Obama is re-elected in 2012. If Romney is elected and scraps the plan, the Republicans don’t have an alternative (they admitted so today). It would eliminate coverage for the 30 million people who have been added since the Affordable Care Act passed and would allow companies to go back to refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. No one wants this. It’s time to face up to the truth and admit that the law is actually good policy and move on. Don’t forget that when Medicare was passed, only about 30% of Americans approved of it. You see how many people enjoy it today. This law will be the same way once people begin to see the benefits from it.