Health Care – Have & Have Not?

More than 25 million more Americans today have healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The House voted to repeal or amend the Affordable Care Act more than 50 times since it was passed in October 2009. “The Affordable Care Act, for the time being, is the law under which the country must operate. We may differ on pursuing a full repeal of the law, repeal is clearly not achievable at this time. Therefore, we should focus on changes and improvements that provide consumers, providers, and taxpayers the most favorable outcomes possible. The evidence shows that there are clear failures in the law’s efforts to regulate the insurance market.” According to Common Sense Solutions to Improve the Affordable Care Act: Simple Changes can go a long way, Douglas Holtz-Eakin. With any new Program, there needs to be some modifications to make it more understandable and checks and balances so that vendors will not ripe-off the ACA and/or the insured. During the years the House tried to repeal the ACA, they did NOT try to amend ACA. The Washington Post reported “Incidentally, shortly before the last repeal vote, Ryan was asked why he was moving forward with a bill to eliminate the Affordable Care Act before the Republican alternative is ready. The Republican leader told reporters with a smile, ‘Just wait.’” Speaker Ryan does not, nor has he had a plan.

Michael Hiltzik, in The Los Angeles Times reported; “We know that House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) is desperate to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What he never has been able to explain adequately is why. Oh, sure, Ryan has offered some rhetorical explanations. He says Obamacare is “collapsing.” That it’s in a “death spiral.” That it’s a “struggle” for Americans. He says a “much, much better system” could be put in its place. Ryan made all these points, and more, during a town hall meeting Thursday evening aired by CNN. The hour-long session didn’t yield an explanation for Ryan’s haste to take action that could upend insurance coverage for more than 20 million Americans. It did underscore, however, that his description of and position on the law are based on misconceptions, misrepresentations and lies.” Jennifer Steinhauer from The NY Times reported, “Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, met privately with his colleagues to discuss the Republican agenda. Repealing the Affordable Care Act was at the top, he said. But replacing it would be really hard. Mr. McConnell was right.”

In Key Proposals to Strengthen the Affordable Care Act by Timothy Stoltzfus Jost wrote; “seven years ago the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (was signed) has accumulated a record of remarkable accomplishments. Despite uncompromising political opposition; widespread public misunderstanding; serious underfunding; numerous lawsuits, three of which have so far made it to the Supreme Court; and major technological failures at launch, the ACA has largely succeeded in its principal task—enrolling tens of millions of people in health insurance coverage. Indeed the period from 2010 to 2015 may be the most successful five years in the modern history of health policy. The ACA has already achieved many significant accomplishments: The ACA has reduced the ranks of the uninsured by an estimated 17.6 million since it was adopted in 2010. This is a striking reduction, especially in light of the refusal of twenty states to implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, one of the ACA’s core coverage strategies. The percentage of Americans under the age of 65 who lack health insurance is now lower than at any point in the past five decades.”    

Insurers backed Obamacare, then undermined it. Now they’re profiting from it. The CEOs of the largest for-profit health insurance corporations were very wary of Obamacare as it was being drafted on Capitol Hill. They didn’t really say so publicly—in fact they had their chief lobbyist, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ Karen Ignagni—claim to support reform.

“You have our commitment to play, to contribute, and to help pass health care reform this year,” Ignagni told President Obama during a March 5, 2009 meeting at the White House. But insurers were playing a duplicitous game. Later that year, Ignagni’s group began secretly funneling tens of millions of dollars to allies like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to finance anti-Obamacare PR and ad campaigns. The big for-profit insurers, which gave AHIP the lion’s share of the secret money, arguably are more responsible than any other special interest in turning the public’s attitudes against reform. Although the insurers stood to gain financially from a law that would require Americans to buy coverage from them, many Wall Street financial analysts and investors worried that some provisions of the law might cut into insurers’ profit margins.

AARP Bulletin, February 2017 reported, “Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security. They want to do it on Medicare. They want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that,” Trump said at a New Hampshire rally during the primaries: “It’s not fair to the people who have been paying in for years.” Yet within days of Trump’s election, the guaranteed health coverage provided by Medicare was cast in doubt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) revived his plan to replace it with a fixed-dollar subsidy that beneficiaries would use to buy private health insurance. Meanwhile, Congress is expected to move quickly to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which could have the effect of erasing the consumer-friendly Medicare benefits that the law created. Even in an era of hostility toward the federal government, support for some programs has remained strong. A Kaiser poll found that 77 percent of people say Medicare is a “very important” program, just below the level of support for Social Security at 83 percent.”

Healthcare for Americans many think we should catch up with Europe and offer universal healthcare. It’s become immediately apparent that although a single payer or universal healthcare system is a dream come true, the cost to the people all but ensures single payer is not in the near future; and no political revolution is going to change that fact. While other counties, Scandinavia, Canada, Australia and Europe offer excellent healthcare plans they have some complications. If the politicians, insurance companies and the medical professionals work together to devise a HEALTHCARE plan for everyone, poor and the rich, that is workable and affordable, that would be an achievement we all could live with.

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