Repeal, Replace or Retain--Americans Should be Grateful to the Presidentby Jim Brennan • 07.11.2012
Regardless the future of the Affordable Care Act—repeal, replace, or remain as is—every American should be grateful to President Obama. If the law remains intact, life will improve for many: those with preexisting conditions, women now eligible for annual well-patient visits and other services, children who will receive immunization and screening for diseases and developmental disorders, and young adults who can remain on their parents’ policy until they reach the age of twenty-six.
These changes may seem abstract to those unaffected, but each can be the difference between life, death and debt. When my kids were in college, I struggled with a decision between buying a high–cost insurance rider for my students, or taking a risk that my young healthy children would remain young and healthy for another couple of years. Fortunately, my risk averse nature won and I bought the policy, because one of my children contracted melanoma, the cost of which could bankrupt anyone with a working-class salary.
If the Act is repealed, the Republicans will have to replace it with something better. This would a shift in ideology on the scale of convincing Washington and Lincoln to switch places on Mount Rushmore, because, judging by their words and actions, they believe health care is fine the way it is. Skyrocketing health care costs isn’t enough to keep the Speaker of the House from tirelessly boasting, “We have the best health care system in the world,” while his sidekick deadpans that their party’s number one priority is to oust the President. Really? What about the economy, skyrocketing tuition costs… the war? And they say that the President is out of touch.
The annual family cost for health care has increased from $8,414-$20,728 in the past decade—the first time it exceeded $20,000. The cost nearly doubled between 2001-2008 when the Republicans were in the White House, four of those years they also controlled both the House and Senate. That’s not to say the Bush Administration didn’t have any achievements, notably the underfunded Medical Prescription Drug Benefit and expansion of Health Savings Accounts at a cost to consumers.
GOP leaders accompany their assertions with, “what the American people want.” It doesn’t take a degree from the Wharton School to figure out what Americans they are referring to. People earning mid-six figure salaries who own vacation homes don’t typically struggle with the astronomical health care costs, so it’s befuddling to them why the President made it an issue in the first place.
Reining in health care costs in a system controlled by CPAs, actuaries and corporate interest is a hard nut to crack. Real change—streamlining and digitizing medical records, reducing repeated lab work and unnecessary surgeries, and rewarding medical teams who provide quality evidence-based care as opposed to volume—takes courage and willingness to think independently, two qualities the President has resolutely demonstrated.
Best be skeptical of a man with a pompadour who wears neat ironed-creases in his jeans and plaid shirt; especially if he’d passed a similar plan to the President’s when he was a governor. If it looks uncomfortable impersonating middle-class, smells like a multi-millionaire, and habitually slips up while speaking, i.e., “I’m not concerned about the very poor,” chances are he doesn’t have a clue that the middle class has been getting hammered further down into the ever increasing wage gap divide for a long time.
Republicans should fess up and thank the President for his health care law. He helped them do what they’d been unable to do themselves—create solutions that help the average American. They are finally offering solutions, albeit some that were in the president’s original language before it was watered down during negotiations, and some that are from the enacted law. Nevertheless, he has them at the table. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Most Americans are smart enough to vote for the candidate that is going to improve their lives, regardless of pundits and party affiliation. At this juncture, based on words and deeds, that person already resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
 Milliman Medical Index (MMI)) – based on cost share between employer-sponsored plan (PPO) and employee premium and out-of-pocket expenses