Friday, March 16, 2012

So Health Care Reform Really Isn't a Bad Thing?

Earlier this morning, I received a notice from PLAN that they intend to join Lambda Legal and 130+ other health care and HIV patients' advocacy groups in supporting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in federal court.

"The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid coverage, eliminates preexisting condition exclusions and ends lifetime caps on coverage. In 2006 Massachusetts passed a similar health care law with the same protections and a minimum coverage mandate. The state saw a 37% decrease in HIV infections, while the nation only saw a decrease of 8%. Common sense reforms found in the ACA will make us an even better, stronger nation and will help with some of the heavy lifting needed to finally eliminate the scourge of HIV/AIDS." -Bob Fulkerson, Executive Director of PLAN

In March of 2010, the ACA was signed into law, reforming aspects of the private health insurance industry and expanding access to health insurance for millions of Americans. The constitutionality of the law was immediately challenged in federal court in multiple jurisdictions. In January, 2012 Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief highlighting the crucial link between the ACA and the ability to curtail the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic. The United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in several cases challenging the constitutionality of the law the week of March 26, 2012.

PLAN has joined Lambda Legal in supporting the federal government’s position that the ACA’s minimum coverage requirement (also known as the individual mandate) is constitutional under the Commerce Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause. [...]

When the ACA was enacted, only 17% of Americans with HIV had private health insurance. In the individual insurance market, people living with HIV are generally considered “uninsurable” and are routinely rejected when they apply for coverage because they have a pre-existing condition. Even when these individuals find an insurance company to cover them, most states have no rating limits, allowing insurers to charge prohibitively expensive premiums. The ACA is designed to address this problem by eliminating pre-existing condition exclusions and requiring that everyone acquire health insurance.

This is just another feature of ACA that can help more Nevadans access the health care we need. Perhaps we'll need to get used to seeing this video more often.

But in case you really want to read the benefits of ACA for yourself, I can pull out the full list as well.

A Stronger Health Care System for Nevada:

518,000 residents who are uninsured and 132,000 residents who have individual market insurance will gain access to affordable coverage.
311,000 residents will qualify for premium tax credits to help them purchase health coverage.
328,000 seniors will receive free preventive services and 58,200 seniors will have their drug costs in the Medicare Part D “donut hole” covered over time.
30,300 small businesses will be eligible for tax credits for premiums.
9,400 young adults will be eligible for quality affordable coverage through their parents

Premium Tax Credits to Expand Private Insurance Coverage in Nevada:

Reform will provide $5 billion in premium tax credits and cost-sharing tax credits for residents in Nevada from 2014 to 2019 to purchase private health insurance.

Reduced Premiums:

Health insurance reform will lower premiums in the nongroup market by 14 to 20% for the same benefits – premium savings of $1,380 to $1,970 for a family in Nevada.

Increased Medicaid Support:

The Federal government will fully fund the coverage expansion for the first three years of the policy, and continue substantial support, paying for 90% of costs after 2020, compared to Nevada’s current FMAP of 50.2%.
In total, Nevada could receive $3.6 billion more dollars in federal funds for Medicaid as a result of the expansion from 2014 to 2019.

Improved Value for Medicare Advantage:

The 228,000 seniors in Nevada who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan will no longer cross subsidize these private plans, saving $45 in premium costs per year.
The proposal will gradually move toward a fair payment system that rewards performance.

This all comes down to providing more choices, more affordable options, and more comprehensive care for more Americans.

OK, and there's something else. Apparently, it's also reducing the federal budget deficit by reducing health care costs! And funny enough, for all the G-O-TEA whining about the budget deficit, they're the ones who want to increase deficit spending by repealing ACA.

What's really interesting is that before ACA became law, Massachusetts passed comprehensive health care reform that would later become the foundation of ACA. Remember who was Massachsetts' Governor when that happened? So why won't Mitt Romney boast about his success in implementing health care reform before the rest of the country caught on?

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I'm just wondering how "Romneycare" is great while "Obamacare" isn't when the only difference between the two (other than ACA being a federal law) is that ACA is actually paid for. Will Mitt Romney's BFFs, Dean Heller and Joe Heck, ever get around to explaining that? And will Brian Sandoval and Michael Roberson ever explain why Nevada patients and small businesses would benefit from higher health insurance costs and less beneficial insurance coverage? Even prominent conservative legal scholars believe ACA is constitutional, so what's the point of suing to take away people's health care?

Again, here's how Nevadans benefit from ACA.

# Health care insurance corporations must provide preventive health care services at no cost in the plans they market to customers. (Mammograms, prostate cancer screening, etc.)

# Health insurance corporations may no longer deny coverage to youngsters under the age of 19 for “pre-existing” conditions.

# Health insurance corporations may no longer rescind coverage because a person made an honest mistake on an application.

# We have the right to choose the doctor we want from our plan’s network or seek emergency care at a hospital outside of our health plan’s network.

# Health insurance corporations may no longer offer plans with lifetime limits on coverage.

# The reforms require that health care insurance corporations spend at least 80% of their premium dollars on actual health care.

# The law requires that health care insurance providers be able to justify any rate increase of more than 10%.

So why again do we want this law repealed? I suspect the new Pew Research Center poll demonstrates why so many Republicans are afraid to talk about the real facts on health care reform. As Americans learn more about the actual benefits of ACA, both approval of the new law and support for President Obama rises. Apparently as time goes by, we're realizing that health care reform really isn't a bad thing.

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