Link to an oped for the campus paper I wrote a few weeks ago.
This ought to get the conversation going again.
Can’t strike down President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in its entirety? Dismantle it, piece by piece. One of the most controversial and disliked parts of the ACA is the individual mandate, which imposes a tax penalty on individuals who do not obtain minimal health insurance coverage. Seems a likely target.
Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) introduced a bill called the “Obamacare Opt-Out Act of 2014”
today. It is super short. In fact it is a quick read: download the short PDF file HERE. Simply put, it allows someone who would have otherwise received the tax penalty for not having insurance to simply opt-out and be exempt. It does nothing to change the rules that require insurance companies to offer coverage to those that opt-out, even when they are sick or injured. It provides no alternate incentive for individuals to obtain insurance.
So? Do we all just give a wink and a nod and pretend to like the ACA except for this one little “mandate“ part? What would the effect of this three page bill becoming law actually be? Is this bill a good thing?
I say it’s great! Make no mistake about it, if this bill is somehow passed, the ACA would be mortally wounded. Even the most liberal Obama supporter would check that exemption box on their tax form to avoid being hit with hundreds in taxes. But that is the narrow view.
What happens if the ACA is gutted from within? Millions have obtained insurance through state or federal health insurance exchanges. But how many of these are newly insured? Of those, how many need state and/or federal subsidies to afford their premiums? Why was this legislation passed in the first place?
The American people knew something needed to be done about healthcare. But the ACA was the wrong answer. It doesn’t get everyone covered. It doesn’t stop hard working families (even with insurance) from becoming insolvent because of healthcare bills. And it most certainly hasn’t stopped the debate.
When are we going to face facts and bite the bullet? Healthcare isn’t the same as health insurance, and healthcare isn’t cheap. The only realistic way to ensure everyone has access to care without bankrupting the country is to raise taxes (exactly how and how much in the subject of a totally different debate) to pay for a universal, single-payer healthcare system. Necessary care for those who need it, regardless of their income.
Yes, you heard me correctly. The quicker this AHA abomination dies the faster we can get down to implementing a real solution to the healthcare crisis that is bankrupting our country.
Know why insurance companies are so hated by doctors? They make them take that contractual discount. Why do doctors sign those stupid contracts then? Because the insurance companies have the patients. That’s called leverage. If everyone was under a single payer system in the US, then we (that’s all of us) could negotiate the best rate for the care we receive. That keeps costs as low as possible; which is just above what doctors would stop providing services for. That includes the pharmaceutical companies and medical equipment suppliers too.
Costs being as low as they can will go a long way to making healthcare in the US truly affordable, but it’s not the only benefit to going full commie-pinko on it! Who pays the bulk of insurance premiums today? Employers, that’s who! [Yes … yes, I know … let’s not consider the government (Medicare/Medicaid) quite yet. I’m trying to shift the cost to them 100% with my argument.] What would happen if the cost of healthcare shifted away from US employers? As long as the free market is allowed to keep competition in the private sector healthy (a different debate, my dear) then prices for goods and services would go down and/or wages would be able to go up. Not to mention, it might begin to make economic sense for US companies to keep jobs in our borders. Yes, our taxes would rise, but the increase would be somewhat offset by the economic benefit of removing this burden from the real job creators.
With these two factors, controlled healthcare costs and a better economy, I believe the net cost of universal healthcare would be much less onerous than the tea-party punch drinkers believe! But regardless of what they believe, I believe they know that you don’t get something of value for free; and healthcare (like freedom) ain’t free sweetheart!
So if you believe that healthcare should only be provided to individuals when they can pay for it, then keep on keeping on; because that’s what we have—and will continue to have with the ACA. However, if you’re like me and believe that, although individual healthcare isn’t a right, there is no reason under God’s green earth why we can’t get together and cooperate to provide necessary care to our citizens who need it, then you’ll pray that the ACA dies a swift death. For as long as the ACA survives, so do health insurance companies, healthcare related bankruptcies, and silly-partisan-piecemeal bills like Senator McCain’s. Please—let‘s put them all to a quick death!