My View 7/18/12
Grand Co., CO Colorado
The futile attempt by the House Republicans to repeal Obamacare last week prolonged the debate and kept it a hot topic.
President Obama got a gift, a second chance to sell his health care reform law and to shoot down some urban myths.
Health care reform issues are extremely important to the more than 20 percent of Grand County residents who cannot afford health insurance now. Those of us who are already insured, including those on Medicare, should also sit up and take note of the impact on us if Obamacare is repealed and not replaced.
The greatest urban myth concerns costs and the deficit. While Obamacare indeed costs trillions, the GOP has deceptively made an issue of only the cost side of the balance sheet, ignoring the sheet’s other side, the savings and revenue offsetting federal expenditures Obamacare (aka ACA) requires. According to the Congressional Budget Office on March 13, 2012, “… the ACA will, on net, reduce budget deficits over the 2012-2021 period.” The Simpson-Bowles bipartisan deficit reduction commission examined the relationship of Obamacare to the deficit and recommended “Controlling health care costs by maintaining the Medicare cost controls associated with the recent health care reform legislation.”
Other urban myths: The GOP litany, that Obamacare would not give consumers choice of plans, doctors, or hospitals, or cut Medicare benefits is, horsefeathers. Nothing changes the choice employees have if their employers provide insurance. States have been given the option of setting up their own market exchanges to cover the uninsured. Colorado’s exchange will give currently uninsured Grand County residents a choice of as many as 12 affordable private plans and will subsidize the cost based on their ability to pay.
For those insured, if Obamacare were repealed, closing the senior drug donut hole would be lost, covering pre-existing conditions for children and adults would be lost, keeping young adults on parents’ insurance policies, eliminating co-pays for mammograms and other tests, or requiring insurers to spend greater percent of your premiums on actual health care services – all lost. There would be no protection against lifetime caps, outrageous co-pays or kicking a patient that got sick off their insurance.
Mitt Romney has departed a little from his House Republican brethren by proposing “common sense” alternatives, paying lip service to both the concept of covering pre-existing conditions and admitting that the uninsured should have more affordable access to health care. He may talk in fiery terms that he will repeal Obamacare day one – a difficult task unless he controls both houses of Congress – but he must also propose a way to fund the same popular benefits as some of the Obamacare provisions. So far he has come up nearly empty on the “how to” part.
The problem is Romney’s “common sense” replacements, cross state insurance sales and malpractice reform, just add up to too few cents. They have already been scored by the Congressional Budget Office. They found that those measures would lower the cost of health insurance, but only enough for 3 million more to afford insurance, leaving 27 million still seeking health care in the ER and shifting the costs on to the rest of us. He has been silent on closing the Medicare donut hole.
Romney’s proposal to cover high risk patients by setting up state pools, as Colorado has done, is already funded by Obamacare until the law is in full effect in 2014. The cost of providing the subsidies is extremely high and unaffordable to consumers who cannot afford any kind of health insurance now. The mandate makes possible pooling high-risk patients with healthier insured so that the system is cost effective for all. In short, Romney’s replacement plan is just another urban myth.
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