Bo Statham: Amid all the lies, here are some truths about the Affordable Care Act
October 19, 2013
The basic purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to expand and improve affordable health care and control costs. Objective analysis and understanding of the provisions of the act have been almost impossible because of the misrepresentations, if not outright lies, that have been spread by opponents since the ACA's enactment in March 2010. The ACA is not perfect, but it is the only comprehensive national system realistically possible.
It is time to dispel the falsehoods about the ACA that now abound.
Falsehood: The ACA is a government takeover of health care. Fact: An estimated 48 million uninsured people are mandated to obtain affordable health care insurance in the open market; no one with insurance or Medicare or Medicaid eligibility is affected. Subsidies are provided to assist low-income people and families. Insurance companies are required to provide essential health benefits, but they structure and price their policies competitively.
This is not a government takeover of health care; it is an extension of the current market-based insurance system. Medical providers and insurance companies, not the government, will continue to make health care decisions and provide care as they traditionally have done. Republicans should love it.
Falsehood: "Obamacare" is a train wreck. Fact: Many provisions have been implemented seamlessly for two years and are providing significant benefits, such as programs to improve delivery systems and patient outcomes and to control health care costs. It's true the new insurance exchanges have got off to a rocky start, partly due to unexpectedly high online volumes, but these problems are being corrected.
Falsehood: The ACA is socialistic. Fact: The government is not acquiring the means of providing health care. They remain in the private sector.
Falsehood: The ACA is causing unemployment. Fact: Companies with 50 or more full-time employees are required to provide affordable health insurance. Firms of that size make up only 4 percent of all companies in the U.S., so 96 percent of American companies are not subject to the mandate. Of the companies that are required to provide insurance, it is estimated that more than 95 percent already do so. The remaining 5 percent probably employ about 1 percent of American workers (Wharton School of Business). The affect on employment, if any, is not significant.
Falsehood: The ACA is increasing the national debt. Fact: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the ACA will reduce the deficit over the next decade.
Falsehood: Members of Congress and their staffs are exempt from the ACA. Fact: They are specifically required to buy health insurance through the ACA exchanges, even though no one else with health care insurance is required to do so.
Falsehood: Undocumented immigrants will get medical care under the ACA. Fact: Only citizens and legal residents can receive benefits under the act.
There are other falsehoods, as well as important ACA benefits, too numerous to note here. The Kaiser Family Foundation health care website is one of many that provide factual information to help you know and understand the truth about the Affordable Care Act.
Bo Statham is a retired lawyer, congressional aide and businessman. He lives in Gardnerville and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.