by Reggie Fullwood
Seven years later, are we better with Obamacare? Congressional Republicans and The Donald don’t think so, but their healthcare plans don’t look viable at all. In fact, the latest Senate health care plan will leave some 49 million people uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office.
I hate asking questions that have obvious answers, but sometimes we ask questions to make a point. Last March marked the seven-year mark of President Obama’s signing the Affordable Healthcare Act on March 23, 2010.
With the President’s signature, “Obamacare” became one of the most criticized initiatives in the history of American politics. Despite criticism from conservatives and media pundits and of course the legal challenges, the affordable healthcare act has transformed the lives of millions of Americans.
Obamacare has also been a major target for Republicans despite the fact that so many Americans have benefited from the program.
First the members of the House of Reps took a stab at passing a new health care law, and of course it passed with no Democrats voting for the bill. It would leave only 51 million Americans without coverage in 10 years. At least the proposed Senate bill did better by two million.
Of course I am being facetious. Whether the number is 49 or 51 million additional uninsured Americans the number is too high.
The facts of Obamacare are the facts in this case, and critics can’t dispute the fact that more than 16 million Americans have gained health care coverage through the health care program.
Obamacare certainly was not anyone’s idea of a perfect health care reform program, but it did lead to the largest extension of health care coverage of any measure since the creation of Medicare almost 50 years earlier.
I can speak on its value directly from my days of managing a small not for profit for six years and not being able to afford to pay our five employees health care because of the costs. Through the affordable healthcare act my employees had a low cost health insurance option.
People across the country now realize more affordable coverage, access to care without going into debt, a higher quality in care, and overall better health, thanks to Obamacare.
So the challenge that Republicans have is how they deal with the millions of folks that are currently insured through Obamacare and how to incorporate major healthcare issues like preexisting conditions and adult children still living with parents.
Politically, repealing Obamacare has very little to do with the actual good and bad of the legislation/policy. Healthcare expansion was the foundation of President Obama’s legacy, and Republicans would love to taint his legacy as much as possible.
And let’s be frank – there is no perfect legislation. Much like the initial implementation of major programs like Social Security and Medicare – Obamacare had a rocky start.
If Republicans were smart they would t think about the most positive components of the affordable healthcare act and own them. For example, according to the Obama administration now up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions are no longer at risk of being denied coverage.
Clearly, Obamacare is not the perfect universal health care initiative, but think about the millions of people who now have a primary care physician versus having to wait until they are so sick that they have to go to the emergency room. And by the way, most of the those people who go to the emergency room end up costing tax payers through public hospital’s indigent care funds.
But what’s interesting about Obamacare is that fact that it certainly wasn’t an original idea. We know that as governor of Massachusetts, Republican Mitt Romney successfully implemented statewide universal health care.
Again, it’s nothing new. The concept that people should be required to buy health coverage was fleshed out more than 20 years ago by a number of conservative economists, embraced by scholars at conservative research groups, including the well-respected Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
If you look back at the 1993 Republican Healthcare Plan – it mirrors President Obama’s.
The Senate Plan simply doesn’t make Obamacare better. Even Moderate GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) recently said in a tweet that the measure would “hurt [the] most vulnerable Americans.” In her state and many others access to quality care is a major issue. She added that in rural Maine, “hospitals are already struggling.”
The bottom line is that if you put politics aside, Congress should really be talking about amending the Affordable Health Care Act, not ending it.
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress,” said President Obama.
Signing off from UF Health,