My View: Tweaking Obamacare a better tack than killing it
August 23, 2013
Obamacare has become a battle of the tweaking versus the killing-seeking. President Obama bowed to pressure from businesses to give them more time to implement Obamacare, much to the ire of consumer advocates, and the GOP gleefully piped that was more evidence the whole law was a failure, so kill off the whole law, even the consumer benefits. In fact, now the full rollout of the law will happen by 2015, not 2014, but the exchanges to cover the uninsured and most of the other consumer protection provisions will be operational in 2014, with many already in effect now.
Recently, Obama tweaked the law to make it easier for businesses to adjust their insurance programs and for the rollout to go more smoothly. First, he delayed by one year the penalties associated with the mandate for employers to provide insurance and next, he delayed for one year the implementation of a provision that required employer provided insurance to put a cap on excessive co-pays.
The delay of the co-pay cap provision was frankly disappointing, but not fatal. The outrageous out-of-pocket requirements of some current employer insurance is one reason that even those who are insured end up in bankruptcy or lose their homes.
The disappointment is that it will be an extra year before victims of excessive co-pays will be protected; the good news is that relief will kick into gear in 2015. If the Teaparty GOP had its way, that protection would be repealed. In their crusade to kill off the law or knock the props out of it, unpaid medical bills would continue to plague many.
It is also disappointing that the employer mandate to provide insurance was delayed a year. Most large employers already provide insurance, but for those who do not, their employees will have to wait one more year. However, those employees who will continue to be uninsured will still be able to get insurance they can afford through exchanges that can subsidize their premiums based on their income level. If they succeed in killing health care reform, the GOP would leave those employees who do not get insurance now with no insurance whatsoever.
The most recent GOP disinformation line is that young adults are going to get screwed by their mandate to buy health care. Inclusion of healthy youth in Obamacare is a necessity to make coverage of pre-existing conditions economically feasible by increasing the insurance pool. Not including young people would make coverage of pre-existing conditions too expensive to provide.
What the GOP is proposing is to eliminate the requirement that those up to 26 can stay on their parents' insurance. What about those whose parents do not have insurance themselves or will be reaching 26? So many younger workers in Grand County fit that description.
The independent Annenberg www. FactCheck.org called "hooey" a GOP legislator's claim that young people making $14,000 a year would be stuck with a big tax bill or be unable to afford insurance. In states like Colorado that expanded Medicaid to cover 122 percent of poverty level, those working poor would be eligible for Medicaid. In those states that did not expand Medicaid, their cost of insurance would be subsidized or they would be exempted from taxes by a hardship clause. Those making too much for Medicaid still will get a subsidy based upon income and be eligible for cheaper catastrophic insurance.
Stung by charges that they have no replacement plan, all the GOP could offer recently was to replace Obamacare with the free market system. That is an ideological statement, not a plan. For more, visit http://www.mufticforumblog.blogspot.com