As soon as the news broke, social media sites were buzzing about the decision. With my eclectic group of Facebook friends, I had some folks praising the measure, some voicing reasonable concerns and others who used the news, like anything else, as another opportunity to bash the President.
I don’t consider myself to be a very politically charged person. My take on health care reform, since the beginning of the debate, has been that it’s obvious we need it in some way. Does this overhaul provide the answer to our problems? Probably not, but it is a start.
This law, the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” as some have called it, does have many positives.
If you have health insurance, proponents of the law say it is designed to only make your coverage more secure and more affordable. I pay insurance premiums on each paycheck, and it is quite a substantial percentage of my pay. I hope those claims turn out to be true.
One area where our family has already benefitted from the law is the fact that insurance companies are required to provide free preventive care, like check-ups and mammograms. Instead of having to fork over a $35 co-pay for each of our 9-month-old Joy’s well check-ups, those visits have been covered. Numbers released by Obama on Thursday say 54 million Americans have been helped in similar ways.
Another positive from this law is that insurance companies are supposed to no longer be able to impose lifetime limits on the amount of care a person receives, nor can they discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions or drop coverage if you get sick. Those are all things that should have never been legal in the first place.
Many college-aged folks are excited about the part of the act that allows young adults under the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s health care plans.
Obama also touted the law’s benefits for senior citizens, saying they will continue to receive a discount on their prescription drugs, which has already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.
The law will call on states to set up health exchanges, which will allow people buying coverage individually, as well as small businesses, to shop for private coverage from a range of competing insurers. Only 14 states have set up these exchanges, because many were hoping the law would be repealed. Alabama is already a step ahead, because state lawmakers have set up the Alabama Health Insurance Marketplace, which is scheduled to begin operation in January 2014.
Many who are upset about the law, claim it is the government forcing people to do something. Those are probably the same folks that fuss about seatbelt laws. The positive that comes with mostly everyone having some sort of coverage is that the uninsured will not be driving up costs for everyone else.
There is a long list of reasons why people are against the health care legislation. Most of the negative reactions that I’ve seen usually start with something negative about our current president, have something completely ridiculous in the middle and then end with something along the lines of Obama must go.
As I said, I’m not a very political person, but the little bit of reading that I’ve done on this subject has turned up that Obama originally didn’t support a mandate on health care, while his opponent in the upcoming election, Mitt Romney did. Obama changed his stance after being elected, and now Romney, who wants to be elected, has changed his mind and is against a mandate. Romney says he will repeal it if elected. Couldn’t he change his mind again once he is in office?
The major problem I have with all of this is that people’s health shouldn’t be used as a pawn on a political chess board. People are dying because they can’t afford medical coverage. In the richest country in the world, someone shouldn’t have to decide if they have enough money to afford to go to the doctor, but it is a decision that is made every day. I’ve had to make the very same decision.
If the Affordable Care Act will help save lives, I’m all for it. Does that give me a certain political label? Hopefully it only labels me as a compassionate human being.
James Phillips is Editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.