Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fix this health care law or do without

From page A12 | November 24, 2013 | 5 Comments

The issue: Obama has to get this right; we don’t have anything better in waiting

A guarantee of health coverage to all Americans has been at the forefront of American politics, off and on, since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

PRESIDENT JOHNSON, a legislative maestro, hammered through Medicare and Medicaid, and if not for the Vietnam War might have been able to go the whole way and insure everybody, not just the elderly and the poor.

President Nixon came close, and had he not resigned over Watergate, might have pulled off his national health insurance bill.

At his State of the Union address, President Clinton waved a wallet-sized card that would, he said, take care of all our health care needs. Unfortunately, he turned the job of securing passage to his wife, who had no official standing and no power base in Congress and the program failed before even getting a vote.

It seemed as if President Obama would succeed where the others failed. The Affordable Care Act, his top legislative priority, passed in March 2010, with no support from sullen Republicans, even though the bill incorporated many of their ideas and was based on two GOP prototypes, a white paper by the conservative Heritage Foundation and a health plan in Massachusetts engineered by Mitt Romney.

During the presidential campaign, Romney seemed to run away from his own program although it was generally considered a success. The GOP came up with the slogan, “Repeal and Replace,” and voted 42 times to repeal “Obamacare.” Their one try at proposing a replacement, a system of vouchers, proved politically unpopular, so the Republicans have settled on simply trying to repeal the law in hopes that something better will turn up later.

THE OBAMA administration has had three years to prepare for the introduction of the Affordable Care Act and has so far botched it, badly but maybe not irreparably. As of last week, only 27,794 people had selected a plan through the federal exchange and 79,391 though the state exchanges, out of a universe of 48 million Americans without health insurance.

In the meantime, millions of consumers had their private plans canceled or were warned that they faced cancellation because the plans did not meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

Taking much longer than he should have, Obama relented and agreed to allow the insurance companies to continue selling the policies the administration deemed inadequate for another year. However, this grudgingly granted extension doesn’t solve the problem, only buys time for the administration to fix the law.

IF WE ARE to have a health care system comparable to other wealthy, developed countries — and we’re running behind the curve — Obama has to get this right. It’s not as if there is something better in waiting; there is nothing in waiting if this law doesn’t succeed.


Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Noreen MazelisNovember 22, 2013 - 12:20 pm

    Nonsense. We had a very good health care system until Obama and the Democrats took it away from us.

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  • greg johnsonNovember 24, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Do without it!!! The reasons given for healthcare reform from my recollection were: 1) insure the uninsured (CBO says we will have 30 million plus uninsured in 2025), 2) stop the skyrocketing costs (My bet is they go up under Obamacare), 3) decrease the deficit ("it won't increase the deficit by one dime"--HAH!!!), 4) cover pre-existing conditions and stop lifetime caps (Good ideas but could be done in isolation without trying unsuccessfully to re-invent the wheel). Look up cancer survival rates in the US (even with our imperfect system) vs. Europe-we beat them every time. This legislation was a "fool's errand"!!

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  • Grant AcostaNovember 24, 2013 - 8:57 pm

    I suggest reading this Greg: Also, you (and Mitt Romney) say you like the part about covering pre-existing conditions and removing lifetime caps, but how do you suggest to pay for these without requiring people to get health insurance? Otherwise, people won't buy insurance until they get really sick, then they can't be denied for a pre-existing condition...

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  • Greg JohnsonNovember 25, 2013 - 12:57 pm

    I read it. Interesting reading. There is some conflicting data depending on what you read. I am not saying our healthcare system could not be improved. Tort reform is the low hanging fruit. I would like to see everyone have decent insurance. I am simply saying this was done in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and by the wrong people. If it makes things better, I will be glad to admit that I was wrong. I want a better system, but I don't believe this administration is competent for normal function, let alone an overhaul which is a virtual impossibility.

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  • Jim HeffernanNovember 25, 2013 - 6:14 pm

    The problem with Obaminationcare is that they didn't select the minimum coverage requirements that would be most useful and appreciate by the general public. Instead of paying for madatory coverages like mental health let's have mandatory augmentation surgery. Research shows hot people are more confident and have higher self esteem. Instead of paying for someone to talk to someone about one's insecurities, we should be paying for the enhancement of physical attributes that make people feel good about themselves again. If the justification for covering birth control is that women will then be sleeping with men, I say, have those men pay a usage fee, complete with group or volume discounts, and have Obaminationcare pay for the liposuction and implants that even the men who aren't sleeping with those women can enjoy too. Women win too as men pretend to listen to anything a woman has to say while he's staring at her body. We won't need mandatory treatment for alcoholism once everyone's hot. Isn't most alcohol consumed for the purpose of making someone else look hot anyway? Obviously they're only concerned with image. They don't need to rebrand, they need to repackage the product.

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