The Affordable Care Act takes the cruelty out of American health care. Take, for example, my good friend in her fifties, a hard-working, ethical woman who lost her husband, her job, and her health insurance within six months last year. She couldn't buy health insurance because of a pre-existing position.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld most of the Affordable Care Act, my friend may still not get health insurance right away, but she'll get health insurance in a couple of years.
Rekha Basu told a story in the 6/29/12 Des Moines Register about a woman who fell out of a kayak in the Boundary Waters and contracted a rare fungal infection in her lungs. Hospitalized on a ventilator for five weeks, she quickly reached the lifetime cap on her insurance of $1 million. Would you like to be maxed out on health insurance for the rest of your life at age 39?
The Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Affordable Care Act will save $100 billion on the national debt within 10 years. Whether you agree with this number or not, you can't just ignore a trend in the right direction. Medical bankruptcies are common when people get sick and have no health insurance or have inadequate health insurance. Hospitals and clinics pass the costs of those unpaid bills on to those of us who do have health insurance.
Suppose you have health insurance but it's lousy. Does it get better? I'm not sure. Certainly now children with pre-existing conditions can't be barred from coverage. The lifetime cap on medical insurance is gone. In 2014 adults with pre-existing conditions will also be covered. Parents can keep their children on their health insurance up to the age of 26 years old. I'm very grateful for those provisions. We have a 23-year-old daughter. We want her and her friends to be covered.
Can health insurance companies still put annual caps for health insurance coverage, even if they can't put lifetime caps on insurance benefits? Retail chain stores usually have lousy health insurance if they have insurance benefits at all.
Would you pay $100 a month for $1,000 worth of coverage yearly? I wouldn't. Would I pay a small fine for not having insurance? Sure. But the fine goes up with time and starts to get really expensive, as it should, since poor people without health insurance would continue to check into hospitals and stick the rest of us with the bill. We're paying for poor people's health care now, either in Medicaid or when hospitals pass on the cost of unpaid care to patients who have health insurance. That won't change. Call it a tax if you want to, but it's a "tax" you're already paying if you have health insurance and pay your medical bills.
Presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney quickly stated that the only way to repeal "Obamacare" is to elect him. Ironically, Gov. Romney invented Obamacare, a liberal accomplishment he's been running away from ever since because the right wing doesn't like it and he's running as a Republican.
Remember a Romney aide's candid comment that as Romney moves closer to November 6th, he'll shake his"Etch-A-Sketch" and swing ideologically to the center?
John Avlon's line in "Mitt Romney's Empty Obamacare-Repeal Rhetoric" in the Daily Beast alludes to that "Etch-A-Sketch" moment at a time of Romney's choosing: ". . . if you're actually interested in governing as well as in winning, the impulse to scream 'repeal' has to be followed by a plan to 'replace.'"
Having invented Obamneycare, Gov. Romney would be able to replace Obomney care if he were elected president. The question is, would he? Or would he let 50 million uninsured Americans twist in the wind?