Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Supreme Court's upholding Obamacare is a victory for consumers

There is an ad running in Colorado on behalf of Pres. Obama’s reelection that contains  a point  besides the one it intended.  The ad features an older woman with Parkinson’s like symptoms who said that when Bain capital (Mitt Romney’s firm) bought the profitable company  for which she had worked for many years and ran it into bankruptcy, she lost her health insurance  and pension..  The punch line: “Mitt Romney…….he made me sick”. The obvious  message of the ad is that Romney did not care about the damage his business practices caused to human beings. , but the ad also illustrates a nagging,  widespread  fear that loss of a job means loss  of health insurance. .    Had Obamacare been in effect, that  laid off worker  in poor health could have been able to get insurance  .    
 Supreme Court’s decision upholding  the constitutionality of  Obamacare   is more than just a political victory for the President.  It is a victory for  consumers..  The health system we have had has failed, both those who could not afford insurance and even the insured. .  Estimates are that 26,000 people die early because they did not have access to insurance. The number one cause of bankruptcy is inability to pay health care bills and many of those bankrupted  are insured with inadequate policies. Care providers pass their costs not covered by patients’ payments  on to the insured .
After the Supreme Court decision, I received calls from family members and close friends who were relieved .  One was self employed and could not afford health insurance for himself and his family. He will be able to afford it January 2014.  Another has college age children who will now be assured they can stay on their family’s insurance until they are 26. 
Another   was at work  and trying to pay off $20,000 worth of co-pays for cancer treatments not covered by her employer provided insurance.  She has been living in sheer fear of layoffs  and one incompletely covered major illness   would have driven her to bankruptcy or loss of her  home.  After COBRA would have run out,  she would be uninsurable due to her pre-existing conditions.  She has been very grateful for the part of Obamacare that is already in effect that requires coverage of necessary and frequent mammograms without a co-pay. 
We seniors are also relieved that the donut hole is covered.   Buried in the law is that the cost of the health system will be lowered due to some important cost savings measures,  Medicare just got at least 8  years tacked onto its life and my benefits are not reduced.   We are informed and aware  the so called “death panels” are prevented by the law from making any edicts that would have power over those end of life treatments.
We are also small business people and in spite of the GOP campaign of disinformation, we understand that we who have less than 50 employees do not have to provide health insurance, but if we do, we get generous tax credits. Our employees  can seek affordable insurance in the new market place exchange instead.
All of us understand that nothing in Obamacare will interfere with our relationships with our doctor. In fact, the uninsured will finally be able to afford to have a doctor with whom they can have a relationship.   Health care will  no longer be rationed by private insurers’ arbitrary denials and anyone’s ability to pay for care. 
These  benefits are what Mitt Romney and the GOP want  to take them away from consumers , though Romney is professing to keep some, but not all. He has offered no mechanism to fund them. He is in a difficult  situation, explaining why the policies of Romneycare for Massachusetts, the model for Obamacare, is wrong for the nation. 
A version of this also appears in the e and print editions of the Sky Hi Daily News ( today.

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