Thursday, November 08, 2012

Conservatives...this one's for you

And I mean that in a totally non-gloating way. This is a post-election post, if you haven't already guessed, and I'll get right to it.

This election, for me, was all about preserving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. You'd think by now that all the press coverage about the thing would mean everyone understands what it does, but I find that most people who either support or oppose the law have no idea what it really does. I'm no health care expert but I will admit to knowing quite a bit about this law, so I will provide a thumbnail description. Boiled down, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does three things in terms of health insurance: regulate, mandate, and subsidize.

Regulate: The ACA imposes a raft of new regulations on insurers, foremost among them a ban on discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. There's also a ban on rescission, that practice of insurers canceling the policies of the seriously (and expensively) sick, based on some technical error in the medical underwriting process. Insurers can no longer impose lifetime caps on coverage, and must allow children to remain on their parents' policies until they are 26.  

Mandate: Nearly all Americans will be required to purchase health insurance, which spreads out the risk insurers must assume and lowers the cost insurers must charge. Those who are already insured may keep their policies if they like, and those who choose to go uninsured must pay a tax penalty. The IRS cannot attach wages to collect this tax, nor can it place liens on property, although it can withhold tax repayments.  

Subsidize: Those who cannot afford insurance will receive a subsidy from the federal government to help defray the cost. Currently, single people earning up to $44,000 a year qualify for subsidies. The poorest of the poor will qualify for Medicaid, which has been expanded for just this purpose. In addition, Medicare recipients saw the closing of the prescription drug “doughnut hole”, amounting to hundreds of dollars in savings every year.

There's more to the ACA, such as the the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel that will look for ways to enhance Medicare efficiency and cut waste and that, contrary to popular opinion, is prohibited by law from imposing coverage limits on recipients. I could go on and on.

Why am I going on about this? Because the ACA, while imperfect, is a good deal better than the system we had, a system that shut out tens of millions who were either unable to qualify for health insurance or unable to afford it. The ACA will ensure that those, like me, who are uninsurable on the private market, will have access to quality, affordable health insurance. No more discrimination, exclusions, or rescission. If you want health insurance you can have it. Period.

This is a good thing. I have conservative friends, and one in particular who, like me, would never, ever get past the medical underwriting process. Election night saw me smiling because I knew that he would never, ever again need to worry about being without decent insurance, and that his wife and son and friends and relatives would never have to worry on his account. And that's what politics is supposed to be about: solving problems for people. Not conservative people or liberal people; all people.

So, my conservative brothers and sisters, although for you this is a tough time, remember that we who voted against your candidate have your back. Even though you disagree with us, often vociferously, we're not going to let you go it alone. Even if you don't know it, our victory is your victory, and I for one am happy to share it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautifully said.

10:04 PM  

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