by Reggie Fullwood
I hate asking questions that have obvious answers, but sometimes we ask questions to make a point. Has President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act or “Obamacare” actually worked? The short answer is yes.
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. The facts 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 Obamacare.
The plan 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.
So when a “conservative” federal judge ruled last Friday that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional many supporters and opponents of the law are left wondering what’s next? Will the tens of millions of Americans who depend on the law for their health insurance be affected? The short answer to this question is a simple – no.
The judge’s ruling was important, but the law has not been invalidated yet, and the White House, Healthcare.gov, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have said that 2019 enrollment will proceed as planned.
Over the weekend, most political pundits and legal experts were agreeing that the law will likely stand, at least until it is reviewed by the Supreme Court. And the high court is unlikely to hear the case until 2020, the Associated Press reported.
So again, those who depend on Obamacare will be fine for a while even if the law is eventually overturned.
Think about how high the stakes are. 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.
When commemorating the five year anniversary of the signing of the bill into law, the White House released statistics stating that 9.4 million people on Medicare saved more than $15 billion on prescription medications, and 76 million are benefiting from preventative care coverage.
Healthcare expansion will be the foundation of President Obama’s legacy, and much like the initial proposal or implementation of Medicare – Obamacare had a rocky start.
But think about the most positive components of the affordable healthcare act – 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 million 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, 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 individual mandate, as it is known, was seen then as a conservative alternative to some of the health care approaches favored by Democrats — like creating a national health service or requiring employers to provide health coverage.
President Obama has been clear – the goal is to make health care more affordable while extending coverage to millions of people who don’t have it.
In a speech given in 2016 before leaving office, Obama said, “So because of this law, because of Obamacare, another 20 million Americans now know the financial security of health insurance. So do another 3 million children, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act and the improvements, the enhancements that we made to the Children’s Health Insurance Program. “
He added, “And the net result is that never in American history has the uninsured rate been lower than it is today.”
Despite the efforts of many opponents, Obamacare has been a success and has helped millions of Americans – that’s the bottom line.
“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 Jacksonville,