Now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare by detractors as well as supporters, for the most part has been upheld by the Supreme Court, we need to take a closer look at it. The main portion of the law found to be unconstitutional was the requirement that states expand Medicaid to those who qualify under a more liberal set of conditions. The federal government cannot withhold funds from states that refuse to implement this plan.
Obamacare has a number of attractive features. It will require health-insurance carriers to spend at least 80 percent of their clients’ premiums on health-care claims. It will allow some young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance. It will not allow the health insurers to discriminate against those who have “pre-existing conditions.” It will set up health insurance exchanges in each state through which those who currently do not have health insurance can purchase a policy. If the state does not set up an exchange, the federal government will set one up for them.
The most controversial issue is the “mandate” that everyone purchase a health insurance policy or pay a fine/tax. Whether it is called a fine or a tax is moot as the result is the same. The only real difference is the legal and/or political implication. Both Democrats and Republicans are spinning this in order to promote their particular political agenda. It is a shame that as important an issue as our nation’s health has to be so politicized. In the polls that I have seen, 46 percent favor the mandate and 46 percent do not. The rest of the law seems to be supported by a fairly large margin.
Let’s look at the down side of the PPACA. It will continue to leave millions of Americans uninsured and millions underinsured. Among those people, the costs of major medical events will have to be absorbed by the rest of society. Those supporting PPACA claim health-care costs will be reduced while those opposed claim it will actually increase costs. The Congressional Budget Office is still evaluating these claims and is to file a report sometime in the future.
Now, remember, the purpose of reform from the beginning was to provide health-care financing for every American and reduce our per capita costs. Does the PPACA accomplish these goals? In short, no, not really.
What, then, is the answer? In my opinion our nation needs to establish a national, government-financed health-care plan. We need to expand and improve Medicare to cover every American. With the PPACA’s passage and its affirmation by the Supreme Court, we cannot become complacent. We must continue to promote and educate the benefits of H.R. 676, which will do exactly what I have just written. H.R. 676 will provide the financing for every American and at a reduced cost per capita. It will relieve businesses and corporations from the burden of providing their employees health-care benefits. It will relieve employees of the high health-insurance premiums. It will accomplish the goals established in the beginning as we worked to reform our nation’s health-care system.