Welcome to ‘the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act and the Health Care (ACA) and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 for Dummies, both signed into law in March of 2010. Let us proceed.
You’d think virtually everybody would embrace this essentially creative and sensible approach to health care. Not so! The right-wingers hate ACA; don’t need anything in the plan, but here is what their idiocy will cost you people who don’t live 2,000 year old lives.
Insurance companies have historically set annual and lifetime limits on coverage. ACA doesn’t allow that. Pre-existing conditions must be covered. Repeal Obamacare and that is not longer the case. That’s what Romney and the right want to do. Repeal Obamacare because they don’t care whether your pre-existing condition is covered or not.
For Medicare recipients, ACA will eventually close your donut hole. That’s the money center for a health care industry that already tops all others in profits. As it now stands, you get a 50% discount on donut hole drugs. The pharmaceuticals have to fund it. Discounts will increase to 75% including generics until the donut hole is closed in 2020. If ACA is repealed, everything reverts to pre-ACA levels. When you seniors reach the $2,850 threshold in drug costs, you get to pay 100% for the gap between $2,850 and $6,350. That’s $3,500 out of pocket dollars. Since the average SS recipient receives $14,760 per annum, that’s a pretty hefty ‘tax’. Vote for Romney, that $3,500 loss is automatic. But it’s a great favor to Romney’s pals and the right doesn’t give a shit about seniors so all those folks want to repeal ACA. That’s what they keep telling us.
While we’re on the subject of seniors and their health concerns here’s a neat provision of ACA. There’s nothing better or healthier than not being sick in the first place, right? To that end Obamacare provides for an annual wellness visit to head potentially serious diseases off at the pass. Cost to seniors? Zippo! Uncle Sam through Medicare picks up the entire tab for those visits. You have no co-pay or deductibles. You and your doc can even put together a personalized prevention plan so you’ll not only live to see your grandkids grow up, but your great-grandkids as well. But if Romney and the right have their way, all that will be REPEALED!
The program also provides for School-Based Health Clinics and even a campaign to educate the kids about oral care. You’d be surprised how injurious to your health a head-full of nasty choppers can be up to and including serious heart problems. But Romney and the right would rather see kid’s teeth painfully rot since they’re gung ho to repeal Obamacare.
There are even Health and Human Services grants through ACA. Those go to eligible grantees for the purpose of chronic disease prevention and to encourage and publicize community health initiatives. There’s another grant program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for pilot programs that evaluate risk factors in the 55-64 demographic where chronic diseases are a serious problem. Of course Romney and the right insist on repealing that highly worthwhile program. They’d rather see people get sick, feel miserable and die while eating up billions of health dollars in treatments that could have been avoided.
Cancer! Now there’s a scary word. Almost as scary as Romney. In their own way, both can be deadly. Think there were any suicides through Bain Capital-initiated job losses? Think repealing ACA might result in numerous deaths? About 1.6 million cases of CA were diagnosed last year. There were almost 600,000 deaths. More males than females, but not by much. A friend recently died of breast cancer. A male friend. He worked in a succession of factories. Another buddy beat prostate cancer, well short of the age where such an attack would be expected.
The Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act addresses the terrible specter of seeing a loved one gradually physically disappear before your very eyes like Robin Gibb, one of the brother members of the Bee Gees who reached the peak of their popularity in the 1960’s and 70’s. Gibb was diagnosed with colorectal cancer that eventually spread to his liver. He died Sunday, May 20th and appeared not to weigh more than 100 pounds toward the end. ACA seeks to make cancer treatments more affordable. It was often cancer sufferers who fell victim not only to cancer but were victimized a second time by insurance companies that would not provide coverage after the annual or lifetime limits ran out.
ACA not only eliminates those caps, but also seeks to make treatment more affordable and easier to access. Pre-existing conditions can also come into play with cancer. Prevention services also play a major role in the Obamacare health care coverage. Of course, none of that registers with Romney and the right.
In terms of affordability, Health Insurance Exchanges should help. Designed to create more competitive pricing by insurance companies for those not insured from other sources, the exchanges have become battlegrounds for goofy federalists who reject all that is DC-centered no matter the quality of the program. For those states who do not live in biblical times, the exchanges can be highly beneficial and represent considerable cost-savings for people who do not have car elevators in their homes.
Transparency is another plus with Obamacare. ACA requires that those who manufacture pharmaceuticals and medical devices have to reveal the goodies they use as ‘persuaders’ for docs and hospitals. In other words, “where are you sending me this year if I sign on?” That certainly doesn’t sit well with the Romney 1 percenters.
Extending coverage to 26 year olds under their parent’s policy has been popular. It disappears when Romney and the right ‘repeal’ ACA on his first day in office.
There are several sources to pay for ACA. Excise taxes on health insurers and sales by pharmaceutical manufacturers, increased Medicare payroll taxes for the wealthy, Fraud and Abuse Enforcement and other sources.
So that, in a partial nutshell, is ACA. I haven’t discussed small business tax breaks, but they’re substantial nor have I covered mandates pending the upcoming Supreme Court decision. Obamacare is a program that makes total sense. It can serve as a base for even more future health care advances, maybe even single-payer.
The rest of the industrialized world gets it. Of course, they have no active Tea Party chapters.
Image: The Globe and Mail