Give healthcare law a chance
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 21:07
And there we have it folks: With a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled that the individual mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as Obamacare, is constitutional under Congress’s taxation abilities (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1). They also decided that the withholding of funds to states that refused to expand their Medicaid programs was not allowed.
Therefore, I see it this way: The Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, assigned with the task of keeping tabs on the constitutionality of laws passed by our voted-for legislative and executive branches, decided that we the people should get some form of health insurance by 2014 or pay a tax for not doing so. What? We have to pay for not having insurance. Are they going to help us get it? That was the idea.
Part of the ACA policies were that each state should expand a section of their public health care plans to include a pool where people who make within 133 percent of the federal poverty level, among other groups, could find insurance, even if temporarily. And the states would receive extra funding from the federal government to help implement these expansions. The government, however, tried to make these changes mandatory and threatened withholding of funds. The Supreme Court said no to the withholdings, but the states will still receive funding assistance to make this happen.
As it sits now, citizens have to follow the law and obtain some basic levels of insurance by 2014 or face a tax that will be worked in as a question in their income tax fillings. Law abiding citizens will do as they are told, but not governors?
Gov. Rick Scott, our supreme leader, says he will not implement two provisions of the healthcare law. He also said that the ACA law passed by Congress was not the “law of the land.” Funny, I thought laws passed by the legislative branch were instantly laws of the land, especially once held up by the supreme court of the land.
Scott claims that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to set up the insurance pool where those who can’t afford insurance on their own, are high risk and can’t get coverage elsewhere or are the most fragile among us can find a place to get coverage? But he said in an interview on Fox News that “We care about having a health care safety net for the vulnerable Floridian.”
What doesn’t make sense is that Florida doesn’t even currently pay providers everything they are owed, and since it’s the government, those providers can’t even attempt to collect. Scott seems okay with that. That provision was written into Florida’s healthcare policies, so maybe those who are not being paid should take a play from the Scott playbook? He doesn’t seem to care that our state is losing out on billions worth of funding and medical technology upgrades because he seems to want to continue fighting a battle that was already decided upon—and not in his favor. He does seem to think that he can do whatever he wants because he is a governor.
Now I know many of us only know what we see in the news or read in the papers, or more realistically, see as the status post of someone we never met on Facebook about what this ACA really means for us, but do you really know everything that’s in it? You have most likely heard that you can now stay on your parent’s insurance until you are 26. I was kicked off my parent’s insurance the day I graduated high school. You may also know that the ACA makes it easier for nursing and medical students to get more flexible ways to pay for school. Allow me to highlight a few items you might not be aware of.
• This law bans insurance companies from capping lifetime benefits. If you or a loved one has ever faced a major illness or disease (cancer, leukemia, etc.) you know that companies would only pay until a certain dollar amount and you would be left, uninsured, covering the remainder of the bill, no matter how many years you paid full premiums into the system and were never sick.
• This law allows for all Americans to have access to affordable health care options and tells us that if we have a plan right now we don’t have to leave it.
• This law sets up tax credits for those businesses that do provide insurance for their employees. All I have ever heard is how making sure one’s employees had a health safety net would hurt small businesses. On the contrary, this establishes a way for them to offset these costs. A healthy worker comes to work. A sick one does not...
• This law also changes the income eligibility rules for Medicaid, helping those who have always been just too high for Medicaid, but too low to afford anything else, get coverage.
• This law makes preventative health care free.
• This law expands coverage and payments to those needing long term care.
I have to ask again: Why not implement these rules? Why is Gov. Scott trying to break the law by not giving all of us access to what our elected officials have said we have a right to benefit from?
As one of the millions in this state who can’t afford insurance, I want to see what I can get from the exchange pool that this law says the state should establish. I can’t afford private insurance for my children and me and until I find a job with benefits, this exchange pool may be the only route we have. As someone who works with many of the elderly in our community, I am worried about how their care will be paid for. What happens to this group should be on all of our minds—we will be counted among them one day. We can’t just say, “Well, I’ll worry about that when I get there.” It will be too late.