Obamacare at risk?

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The supposed current recovery is a myth. The only people “recovering” are the well-to-do with money to burn.

The average American is still faced with rampant inflation and low wages, and most new jobs are temporary or part time “McJobs”

We need to be growing our economy, but as long as Obamacare looms on the horizon, corporations and small business job creators will continue to hold back from investing in The U.S.

Dr. Michael Pramenko’s guest column – “Affordable Care Act is grounded in principles once endorsed by GOP” (August 11, 2013) – and today’s timely editorial – “Obamacare at risk?” – accurately bracket the real threat to affordable health care for millions of Americans:  unprincipled partisanship.

If “the law’s problems” are only “growing pains” typical of any grand new government program, then Congress is remiss for not already “tweaking” the Affordable Care Act to quickly ameliorate them.  If those problems are more serious, then Congress is derelict for not intervening to avert the predicted “train wreck”.

As Dr. Pramenko explained, in addition to the financial collapse and two wars President Obama inherited from his Republican predecessor, he also faced accelerating health care costs impelled by profit-driven providers and health insurer’s who gouged their insured’s while investing millions in “death panels” devoted to denying claims.

Because rising premiums and health care costs threatened to bankrupt the “middle class” and Medicare/caid, “doing nothing” was never a choice.  Liberals wanted “Medicare for All” – a “public option” that would have freed employers from health insurance costs, raised taxes, and essentially eliminated private health insurance companies.

Republicans long-advocated a more market-driven approach—which co-opted existing for-profit insurers by imposing individual/employer “mandates”, was successfully implemented in Massachusetts (“RomneyCare”), and was the model for “ObamaCare”. 

Now, hypocritical House Republicans are reluctant to hold oversight hearings on the implementation of “Obamacare” – lest doing so publicly promulgate its benefits and confirm that recent “problems” are ultimately insignificant.  These saboteurs – including Scott Tipton—would rather demagogue “ObamaCare” for partisan political advantage than fix it. 

Instead, irresponsibly opportunistic Republicans are cynically inciting inter-generational divisiveness between younger/healthier Americans—whose premiums are essential to the “risk pool”, and older/sicker Americans (and especially, women)—who are already benefiting from access to more affordable health care.

Critics of Club 20 should know that its Educational Foundation performed an invaluable public service yesterday by hosting a “Regional Health Care Forum” – attended by such “notables” as Tillie Bishop, Kathy Hall, and Mesa County Commissioner John Justman.

While Congressman Tipton has repeatedly voted to de-fund and/or repeal it, and while Republican congressional leaders dissuaded the N.F.L. from partnering in “p.s.a.’s” to educate Americans on their new health insurance options, many local community leaders recognize that the Affordable Care Act is already – and will remain—“the law of the land”, and that both individuals and businesses need to be better-informed about it. 

Hospice Director Dr. David West traced the evolution of the Grand Valley’s progressive and cooperative health care delivery mechanisms – highlighting both its unique and nationally-recognized strengths and remaining weaknesses (including costs).

Against that background, Linda Gann, Western Slope Outreach Coordinator for “Connect for Health Colorado”, outlined the plans that will be available beginning in October on its insurance exchange website.  While the “devil is in the details”, and final premium rates are not yet published, “Connect-Colorado” seems well-ahead of the Nation.

The combination of competitive insurance exchanges and individual/employer mandates – the market-based approach proposed by the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1992, successfully implemented as “RomneyCare” in Massachusetts in 2006, and embraced by Governor Owens’ “Blue Ribbon Commission on Healthcare Reform” in 2008 (in which Club 20 actively participated and endorsed) – is also the crux of “ObamaCare”.

Despite continuing political “noise”, the beneficial local impacts of the Affordable Care Act will likely be substantial – enabling both the Marillac Clinic and Family Health West to expand their services, and perhaps their facilities.  Hopefully, the increased availability of both basic primary care and mental health services to the previously uninsured and/or impoverished will also work to lower Mesa County’s unfortunately high suicide rate.

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