Unless you’re Patrick Star and you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the new health care law that went into effect on October 1st, when public health care exchanges opened up to the uninsured public. This means that hundreds of thousands of Americans- whose lack of health insurance was driving up rates- will be able to get affordable health care and visit a doctor for the first time in years.
However, along with this landmark piece of legislation going into effect came the inevitable fight over its continued existence. As of September 13, the Republican controlled House of Representatives has voted to repeal The Affordable Care Act (henceforth known as Obamacare), 42 times, knowing that the repeal bill will be dead upon arrival at the Democrat controlled Senate. Ever since its passage on December 24th, 2009, shenanigans surrounding its implementation and possible repeal have been constantly floating around. It seemed to be the most controversial pieces of legislation that President Obama had ever passed.
But on June 28, 2012, in a 5-4 vote, the United States Supreme Court upheld the law, citing that “Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness.” The fight over its constitutionality ended, but the arguments only seemed to increase.
When the threat of a government shutdown loomed, one party used this dark cloud as a bargaining chip for getting a budget passed. Delay, change, or repeal Obamacare, or the government shuts down, was the message sent to the President and the American people. That was literally the only reason an agreement couldn’t be met. The House would pass a bill that would avert the shutdown and cripple Obamacare, and the Senate would remove the Obamacare provision and send the almost identical bill back to the House.
The government did shut down, for 16 days, over a piece of legislation that has been held up by the Supreme Court, and passed by Congress back in 2009. The approval rating of Congress has hit a record low of 5%. Only 24% of Americans approve of Congressional Republicans, and an even lower 21% of Tea Partiers.
What are they all fighting over, exactly? What is it about Obamacare that the Republicans despise so much? Is it the fact that it puts us on the same playing field as other first world nations like Canada, the UK, and Germany, who all have functioning and rate-lowering free healthcare? (The healthcare in the United States is at a severely reduced rate under Obamacare, it is not free). Is it the fact that they don’t want 48.6 million uninsured citizens to get affordable health insurance?
Let’s talk about what Obamacare does.
- If you already have insurance, you get to keep it. Period.
- Preexisting conditions will not be a cause for denial of insurance. This means that people like my father, who survived throat cancer, will never be denied heath coverage should he lose his job and have to find insurance away from his employer.
- All plans must offer comprehensive coverage. Under Obamacare, there will no longer be such thing as being “underinsured.”
- Currently, hospital rates are hiked up because of hospital compensation for the uninsured who come into a hospital, cannot pay, but under the law cannot be denied treatment. When everyone is insured, prices should fall.
- States can choose to set up their own Healthcare exchanges, or go with the government’s version
- If you don’t get healthcare, you will be required to pay a small fine on your taxes every year
- There are no “death panels” or Muslim exemptions or healthcare rations. (Read the full list of Obamacare myths here)
It isn’t even a “government takeover” of health care, as some have claimed. As PolitiFact says, “Government takeover” conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees.” But the law that Congress passed back in 2009 relies largely on the free market. The law does significantly increase regulation of health insurers by keeping prices low and getting rid of denials based on preexisting conditions. But the law at heart, relies on private companies for the health care and the free market. The majority of Americans will continue to get coverage from private insurers.
There have been some hiccups in the new online exchanges, but those shall easily be fixed. Hundreds of people have already gotten insurance through the individual state exchanges, and thousands are still to follow. Finally, the right to be healthy is being enforced in this country.
Get over it, congress. Keep the government open, get back to work, and stop fretting over a fight you’ve already lost. You know who won? The millions of uninsured americans, who will not thank you for your stubbornness at the polls next November. In 20 years, your rallying cry will be, Don’t touch my social security. Don’t touch my Medicare. And whatever you do, congress, don’t touch my Obamacare.
Decker, Cathleen. “NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll Adds to Republican Shutdown Woes.” LA Times. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
Drobnic Holan, Angie. “Top 16 Myths about the Health Care Law.” PolitiFact. Tampa Bay Times, n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
“How Does the Affordable Care Act Help People like Me?” HealthCare.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
“U.S. Health Insurance Survey: 84 Million People Were Uninsured for a Time or Underinsured in 2012.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 Apr. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.