Photo from Washington Post
This post comes live from the Heartland where we are currently experiencing paradise like weather. Too bad the same could not be said, metaphorically, for the health reform legislation. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to commonly as Obamacare, finds itself in national headlines this week as the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) plans to entertain arguments from both sides. A point of interest is the fact they are dedicating more time to hear this case than any other in the past four decades. This is pretty paramount considering some of the cases considered in that time period include Roe v. Wade, Bush v. Gore and others.
On one side are 25 states, challenging several pieces of the legislation, including the individual mandate piece, which charges that all individuals must purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty enforced through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Another beef is over the Medicaid expansion, which is troublesome to many states as they are already facing serious budget constraints as this nation sputters through a recession. Medicaid spending makes a significant portion of every state’s budget and it is only going to get worse if health care costs continue to spiral out of control.
The Sunday morning political talk shows dedicated minimal time to covering this issue. The President has downplayed things significantly, but why, since many constitutional law experts expect the law to be upheld? It is ironic indeed. Another tidbit was the fact that the Obama Administration’s mouthpiece of the week, David Plouffe, argued on the talk show circuit that the ACA is quite similar to the Massachusetts model. The only differences, of course, are the fact that the Massachussetts connector was a state based plan created in a bi-partisan fashion.
The major elephant in the room will be the cost issue. As health insurance premiums continue to rise, Americans are taking home less pay. Gas prices are high which leads to higher food prices. How are we supposed to get ahead, when many Americans struggle to survive on a paycheck to paycheck basis? How do you justify requiring a law abiding citizen to take on a cost of at an average $10,000 for their family or face a tax penalty? Sure, subsidies are available, but at the end of the day, somebody is going to pay for it and when a nation is as broke as we are, this usually means higher taxes or significant cuts. Neither of which are desirable.
Do yourself a civic favor and pay attention to the news these next few months regarding this issue. Whether you realize it yet or not, this legislation is going to fundamentally change how health care is delivered. You will be impacted in some way by this law. Subsequent posts will include several scenarios from a provider, patient and business perspective. Stay tuned and vigilant on this issue and others. This country needs political discourse and this site strives to be an objective mediator and shine much needed light on a complex issue.