28 June 2012

SCOTUS Upholds ACA And Ted Kennedy's Goal

Today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision validating the Affordable Care Act (ACA) staved off a right-wing rear guard action to upend the law. John Roberts, making the right decision for the wrong reason, essentially saved the Supreme Court's credibility for preserving constitutional law and common sense.
At its best the law is a modest reform that is a far cry from the less costly and more equitable single-payer options (Medicare for All) that would more efficiently insure the uninsured. 
The ACA springs from Republican reform proposals despite what Mitt Romney says now. 
As of now the law stands to save more lives of individuals who might otherwise not have coverage for that pre-existing condition or be denied coverage in a system where health care is a privilege, not a right.

When I heard a woman caller on NPR after the decision explaining her ongoing cancerous eye problem, the human impact of this ruling was clear. She broke down in tears of relief knowing she'd be covered now. 

The ACA is a work in progress and a step in the right direction, affirming the late Ted Kennedy's hopes expressed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention:

For me this is a season of hope -- new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few -- new hope.
And this is the cause of my life -- new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.
We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

25 June 2012

10 Ways A Supreme Court Decision Against The Affordable Health Care Act Will Hurt

If the Supreme Court strikes down all or a part of the Affordable Care Act here's what will be lost:

1) Access to health insurance for 30 million Americans and lower premiums. More than 30 million uninsured Americans will find coverage under the law. Middle-class families who buy health care coverage through the exchanges will be eligible for refundable and advanceable premium credits and cost-sharing subsidies to ensure that the coverage they have is affordable.
2) The ability of businesses and individuals to purchase comprehensive coverage from a regulated marketplace. The law creates new marketplaces for individuals and small businesses to compare and purchase comprehensive coverage. Insurers will have to meet quality measures to ensure that Americans can access comprehensive coverage when they need it.
3) Insurers’ inability to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions. Beginning in 2014, insurers can no longer deny insurance to families or individuals with pre-existing conditions. Insurers are also prohibited from placing lifetime limits on the dollar value of coverage and rescinding insurers except in cases of fraud. Insurers are already prohibited from discriminating against children with pre-existing conditions.
4) Tax credits for small businesses that offer insurance. Small employers that purchase health insurance for employees are already receiving tax credits to encourage them to continue providing coverage.
5) Assistance for businesses that provide health benefits to early retirees.The law created a temporary reinsurance program for employers providing health insurance coverage to retirees over age 55 who are not eligible for Medicare, reimbursing employers or insurers for 80% of retiree claims. The program has offered at least $4.73 billion in reinsurance paymentsto more than 2,800 employers and other sponsors of retiree plans, with an average cumulative reimbursement per plan sponsor of approximately $189,700.
6) Affordable health care for lower-income Americans. Obamacare extends Medicaid to individuals with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty line, guaranteeing that the nation’ most vulnerable population has access to affordable, comprehensive coverage.
7) Investments in women’s health. Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging women substantially more than men and requires insurers to offer preventive services — including contraception — at no additional cost.
8) Young adults’ ability to stay on their parents’ health care plans. More than 3.1 millionyoung people have already benefited from dependent coverage, which allows children up to age 26 to remain insured on their parents’ plans.
9) Discounts for seniors on brand-name drugs. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to provide a 50% discount on prescriptions filled in the Medicare Part D coverage gap. Seniors have already saved $3.5 billion on prescription drug costs thanks to the Affordable Care Act provision.
10) Temporary coverage for the sickest Americans. The law established temporary national high-risk pools that are providing health coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions who cannot find insurance on the individual market. In 2014, they will be able to enroll in insurance through the exchanges. 67,482 individuals have already benefited from the program.

The Republicans are playing with the fire by shooting down this moderate piece of reform; next up will be single payer or Medicare for All.