Let’s Do Better by Brenda Robinson
Of all the things President Barack Obama did wrong, he sho’ ’nuf’ got it right with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). His critics make us wonder how some congressmen and citizens even have the smarts “to get out of bed in the morning.” Who in their right mind would stop their citizenry from receiving a paycheck, choosing to close government offices, unless the president compromised on Obamacare? The culprits are primarily Republicans who claim to be “strong” Christians, the Tea Party types. And, those Republican congressmen will still get their paychecks, while some of their Tea Party counterparts, living from paycheck to paycheck, will apply for food stamps.
The president does not come from a “privileged” family. Some of us have heard the president tell the story of his mother’s inaccessible healthcare issues, being she had cancer and no heath insurance. However, a personal experience with inaccessibility to healthcare is not a requirement for sensitivity to the matter. How about just being human and having a desire for all people to have the basic necessities of life, particularly in America, land of plenty.
Certainly, we know Obamacare will cost and somebody will have to pay. Get ready to pay, taxpayers! But, why not. We pay for farmer subsidies, highways, railways, public education and even Wall Street bailouts. That’s the way our system works. And, critics of the plan, take note. There have been no official complaints from neither health insurance companies, nor physicians’ organizations because they are “getting ready to be paid.” You would think Republicans could find some good in Obamacare, specifically the increases insurance companies and physicians will receive. Capitalist will not suffer under the plan.
And, this criticism of the president’s refusal to negotiate is unfounded. The critics may have a point of negotiation failure on budgeting, but not on the Affordable Care Act. President Obama and liberal Democrats really wanted a “Single Pay” healthcare plan, but backed off to get Obamacare passed through the House and Senate. Further, Obamacare was modeled after the Massachusetts’ healthcare plan which was passed under Republican Governor Mitt Romney.
Let’s examine some aspects of the plan:
Young people, up to age 26, may remain on their parents health insurance plan. A reasonable case cannot be made against this provision. Firstly, the premiums will be paid to the insurance companies by the parents. Secondly, when medical care is needed by young people, they need not neglect obtaining the care which could lead to further medical care and higher cost as they age.
A popular component of the plan is people can neither be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions nor charged more for premiums because of pre-existing conditions.
And, insurers are accountable. Beginning in 2014, health insurers, by law, must cover certain basic benefits, among them emergency services, maternity and newborn care, and mental health and substance abuse assistance. Finally, the insurance market is open, meaning the customer can shop from state to state and vouchers are available to people who meet certain income guidelines.
Of course, the plan is not perfect. Some small businesses, with under 50 employees, may legitimately be unable to assume healthcare cost for their employees. And, beginning in 2015, those small businesses opting out will have to pay a penalty if their employees obtain subsidized coverage. Also, everyone is expected to carry health insurance. Persons who refuse to purchase insurance will be fined, one percent of taxable income in 2014, and by 2016 that amount becomes 2.5 percent. Even with vouchers and tax credits for those individuals considered “low income,” the fine may prove to be a hardship.
The plan is not flawless, but 50 million Americans, who were previously “locked out,” now may access the healthcare system. America has the highest cost for health care in the world.
Some Americans currently seek health care in other countries, with Costa Rica being a popular place. At the least, America can not boast that all citizens have health insurance. And, most importantly, all Americans have opportunities to receive health care. After all, “We are endowed with certain inalienable rights and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which embodies the right for all citizens to see a doctor. For that we say thank you, Mr. President, for not compromising.
Brenda Robinson is an NNPA Emory O. Jackson award-winning columnist for Frost Illustrated.
This article originally appeared in the Oct. 9 print edition.