Monday, April 9, 2012

The affordable health care act

On March 23rd2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. On that date there were 50 million Americans without medical insurance. Insurance companies were permitted to refuse coverage for preexisting conditions. Insurance companies could place limits on how much they would spend in a year and over the life of the policy. Children were eliminated from coverage under their parent’s policies when they graduated from college or became independent while the act allows children to stay on their parent’s policy until they are 26 whether they were independent or not. Millions of seniors still can’t afford the drugs they need despite Medicare part D. The ACA gradually eliminates the doughnut hole until it disappears in 2020. These problems and a great many more were addressed in this Act.

This law was opposed by Republicans and supported by Democrats. The Act Passed in the house on March 21st 2010 by a vote of 219 to 212 and while 34 Democrats voted against the bill, not one Republican voted for it. The Senate passed the bill with 58 Democrats and two independents voting for it while all 39 Republicans voted against it.

From its introduction until today the Republicans have attacked the bill.

They started with death panels although there weren’t any.

Then they said it would increase the deficit even though the bipartisan CBO found that it would reduce the deficit by 50 billion dollars over 10 years. The Republicans don’t talk about the various revenue raising measures that the Act contains including a surcharge on our richest 0.3%.

Next they said that it will eliminate jobs although once again the CBO found that it would have very little effect on employment.

Lastly they argued that because the ACA requires everyone to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty (The Individual Mandate), that it is unconstitutional. It is interesting that the act was designed in accordance with the suggestions of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and many Republican legislators when they were fighting Clinton’s attempt to provide universal health care in the 90’s.

Now 26 states have brought a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act. It is no surprise that every one of these states is controlled by Republicans. I think back over all the major legislation that has been passed in my lifetime (I go back to the 40’S) and cannot think of one that was not adopted with some bipartisan support.

The Civil Rights Acts and Medicare received broad bipartisan support.

Even the Bush tax cuts of 2001 had substantial Democratic support. While only 2 Democrats voted for the tax reconciliation Act of 2003 it would not have passed without their support.

It is hard to believe that not one Republican member of the House or Senate found this law to be in the best interest of the people. I believe their unanimous and organized attacks were instead an attempt to gain political advantage at the expense of the people.

Now the question is before the Supreme Court. These nine ladies and gentlemen are supposed to decide based on the law. Does anyone believe they will? Beginning with their decision in Bush V Gore the majority on this court has demonstrated its loyalty to the Republicans who appointed them. In Citizens United the court extended the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections as free speech by corporations (overruling two prior decisions) which generally support Republicans. Once again the Republican appointees voted the Republican way.

The Court’s approval rating has fallen to 46% while its disapproval rating has climbed to 40%. I wonder what it will be if it finds the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional?

That decision will leave 50 million Americans without health care insurance. It will leave those with preexisting conditions without coverage. It will leave many of our children and more of the poor without medical care, and seniors will continue to struggle to pay for their medicine, without the help provided by the ACA.

How can so many people fail to recognize the importance of this legislation to so many struggling Americans?