I’m going political again, so look away now.
This morning on NPR, there was a good story on Wisconsin voters. As you know, Wisconsin has been a hotbed of labor controversy, thanks to Gov Walker. You would expect the group of four union voters to all vote Democrat this year. Wouldn’t you?
One of the people they interviewed was a prison guard. He had many interesting points, and while he was discussing his friends reaction to his complaints about Walker’s anti-union legislation, they told him to get another job. That was especially stupid, given the current economic situation.
Then came the clincher. When asked about his voting tendency this November, he said that he didn’t like Obama because of the Affordable Care Act. What he said was that he liked the insurance that he got through his employer (the state of Wisconsin) and that nationalized health care would force him to change.
Nope, sorry, not true. The Affordable Care Act only says that you must purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. It doesn’t specify which company you choose, but if you don’t have insurance, your state will give you some low-cost options through an insurance exchange. (Although many Republican-controlled states like Wisconsin are dragging their heels hoping that a Republican President will repeal the law.) It also will subsidize your insurance if your income is below a certain level. It also guarantees the availability to all of insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions, and extends the age up to 25 when children will have to get their own insurance.
If your employer-provided insurance meets minimum standards (state insurances do!), then nothing will change for you.
Furthermore, this Act ensures that you won’t be denied treatment in an emergency (for lack of insurance) and that if a formerly uninsured person is hospitalized in an emergency, neither the government or charities will be called on to pay for it. What is wrong with that? It saves money. The insurance companies benefit from increased subscription, and the government pays out less. It also benefits from the taxation of increased profits from the insurers.
Who doesn’t benefit? The scroungers without insurance, who would rather the government paid for their emergency health care than pay for insurance. They can still do this by paying the penalty for not having insurance. Small employers? Small employers are only required to provide insurance if they have 50 or more employees, and chances are good that they already do. There are tax incentives to do so, and it is a good benefit to offer prospective employees. Besides, group plans are more efficient and cost less. The employer can also take the premiums directly out of their employers’ paychecks, in some cases reduce their exposure to tax.
What’s not to like? Yes, it could be better, and moves some of the Medicare/Medicaid burden to the States. It also calls for $716 billion in savings over 10 years, but invests $350 million to help stop Medicare fraud, which incidentally costs $60 billion a year – that’s $600 billion over 10 years. Even if they can stop half of it (and make some efficiency savings), they can make the Act cost neutral, which is good for all of us. That is certainly better than Ryan’s voucher plan, that will result in direct costs to seniors if they require anything above what the coverage provides (i.e. if the prices go up). And who determines what those nominal prices are? The government. Now that sounds like the death panels that the Republicans are so afraid of with the Affordable Care Act.
Sometimes I just want to beat my head against a brick wall.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.