Health reform birthday party — a re-cap
By Lauren McNitt
Yesterday was health care reform’s first birthday, and the number of op-eds, polls, studies, surveys, reports, etc. touting one side or the other was dizzying. And as a member of the media, I can’t help but jump on the bandwagon.
Here a few of my favorites from the day:
- Pro-repeal group Revere America said that the majority of voters view the health reform law as a “threat to their freedom because it empowers the federal government to force people to buy a product they might not want – health insurance.”
- Rasmussen reports found 54 percent of voters oppose the law.
- A Gallup/USA Today poll found 49 percent say it was a “good thing” Congress passed the bill, where 40 percent say it was a “bad thing.”
- A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found 42 percent of Americans support the law, while 46 percent are opposed. In addition, 53 percent say they are confused about the law.
PolitiFact summed up its favorite falsehoods about the law. Here are a few highlights:
- Twelve judges have thrown out legal challenges to the health care law because they rejected "the notion that the health care law was unconstitutional," President Barack Obama. PolitiFact ruled this false.
- The health care law is “job-killing,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Ruled false.
- Those who fail to buy health insurance under “Obamacare” face the threat of jail time, Del. Bob Marshall, R-Va. Ruled pants on fire.
For those of you who support repeal, in this article Newt Gingrich, John Goodman and James C. Capretta share why they think “Obamacare” has failed:
ObamaCare did nothing to address the relentless march of ever-rising health care costs. Unless the courts decisively conclude that the individual mandate — and perhaps even the entire law — is unconstitutional, ObamaCare will force most Americans to purchase health insurance with premiums rising at twice the rate of growth of their incomes.
To make matters worse, the new law takes away many private-sector techniques for controlling costs, like flexible benefit design and cost sharing — and actually drives up costs through an array of new regulations and requirements. ObamaCare thus locks us into the unsustainable path we are already on.
(1) Offer a generous and flexible tax subsidy to people to obtain insurance, and (2) create a national market for health insurance by allowing cross-state purchasing.
A better solution is to give people the same tax relief for purchasing health insurance on the individual market as businesses are given for financing an employee plan.
A better solution: (1) People who remain continuously insured should not be penalized if they have to change insurers, and (2) make insurance truly portable and available in a nationwide marketplace.
So this is my birthday present to the legislation, and those who are befuddled by it: some clarity on what it does, and how it does it.
The Affordable Care Act, once it kicks in fully in 2014, is expected to do four things: provide coverage; remake a small slice of the private insurance market; pay for itself; and try to control costs.
Healthy people can no longer say no until they get sick and insurers can no longer say yes only when applicants are healthy.
The exchanges offer another layer of consumer protection: Just as Amazon.com would stop carrying a toaster that routinely exploded when customers plugged it in, if an insurer repeatedly misbehaves, regulators can kick it out of the exchange.
But for all its flaws, it’s a good law, which is why Republicans have had so much trouble coming up with state plans that could cover more people at a lower cost. And it’s worth trying.