Delays in Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act is probably one of the most polarizing pieces of legislation in American History. Now in its 40th pass through Congress , repeal being the intent by Republicans on the Hill, the Act is as complicated as it is controversial. Opponents say it's going to strap the country with more debt; that healthcare should be a responsibility , not a right. Critics agrue that government has no business deciding our health options for us.
The argument goes further. Oklahoma was just given the greenlight to sue the federal government over a portion of the bill that would penalize states without marketplace-type insurance exchanges and Oklahoma leaders have been wary of the law since before it was passed.
Now, the Obama administration has delayed another key component of the act--the portion aimed at limiting out-of-pocket costs for patients. The Administration says that the delay is to allow employers more time to sort out the logistics and integrate this part of the law. Critics, however think the reason is more nefarious.
But why such controversy over ensuring that healthcare is available to everyone? Why shouldn't everyone have access to affordable health care, care that provides them with the chance to live healthy lives, and not be strapped down with debt themselves, through no fault of their own? The answers to that question abound.
Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, in 2009, commented, famously, on the president's healthcare proposal:
" The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of [President Barack] Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil".
Myths like these about the healthcare act might be the cause for such criticism. For instance, the claim that it endangers Medicare is simply not true. The law contains a provision that prohibits any cuts to existing Medicare benefits. You don't have to change doctors and you dont have to go before any kind of panel to decide your care.
In fact, the law doesn't really put government in the driver's seat at all. For most people, healthcare would still be provided through private exchanges. Government healthcare would only be provided in extreme circumstances, much the way Medicaid is doled out now.
Healthcare experts say the claims that doctors will be scarce, that $ 716 billion will be cut from Medicare and that companies will be fined for not insuring their employees is also untrue. Stuart Guterman, CEO of health policy advocate the Commonweath Fund says the $716 billion critics argue will be taken from Medicare is a fallacy. He says The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress' independent and nonpartisan budget scorekeeper, recently estimated that the changes to Medicare in the ACA will reduce spending by a total of $716 billion between 2013 and 2022. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, at a campaign function last year , said the money comes from redirecting subsidies already worked into the Medicare budget.
And according to the law, small businesses that already provide health insurance will not be affected. Penalties for not providing health coverage apply only to companies with 50 or more workers.
But maybe the critics are right. Perhaps the attempt, through the Affordable Care Act, is government control of the population, through health. It's entirely possible that we aren't being given all the information and that the Administration is playing this one close to the vest. And maybe, as one critic said in a blogpost , there aren't droves of sick people walking around battered and bloody, in need of the government to take care of their healthcare. Maybe, instead, that need is more subtle. Maybe they're wearing suits and ties, and writing an article you're reading, battling a heart problem they've battled their whole life. Maybe these people are decent, hardworking people that just can't afford $300 thousand open heart surgeries without being strapped with debt for life. What is that person supposed to do? In order to pursue Life, Liberty and Happiness, we need our health. We ask the government to provide for our safety, our general well being. Isn't health a part of that? We're the only industrialized democracy without universal health care. Canadians cheer their plan. Italians do as well. Yet, we're the greatest country in the world? There may be other ideas that are better. But until one is proposed, we'll continue to ask these questions and continue to clarify the facts.