Say what you will about health care reform. For an infant, it has proven to be quite the survivor.
When President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, aka "Obamacare," in March 2010, he might as well have scrawled a bull's-eye on its cover sheet. Such was the immediate onslaught of opposition to the landmark legislation of his first term in office.
Despite a Congressional Budget Office assessment that this interconnected tune-up of Medicare, expansion of Medicaid, and course correction of American health insurance would cut future deficits and save Medicare money, Republican opponents pounced hard and heavy.
Remember the old "government takeover of health care" rhetoric? Or the "death panel" phase? Those claims may not have had a sound footing in fact, but they sure made for scary sound bites on the stump, didn't they?
Then came the lawsuit filed by 26 states, charging that Congress overstepped its authority in several respects, most notably with the so-called individual mandate provision that requires Americans for the first time to acquire health insurance or pay a fine. The legal fight ignited a separate firestorm over whether religious institutions opposed to contraception and family planning should be exempt from a requirement that their health plans provide employees with access to these things.
After months of deliberation, the U.S. Supreme Court in June upheld the bulk of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate, and the baby survived another scare.
Tuesday night, the kid made it over one final hurdle as Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who had vowed to halt health care reform on his first day in office.
As a result, the following benefits of health care reform will proceed:
- The end of coverage denials due to previous medical conditions.
- A prohibition on lifetime or annual dollar limits on most health insurance benefits.
- A ban on rate discrimination based on sex.
- Free preventive services, including cancer screenings and vaccinations, for Medicare beneficiaries and those with employer or individual coverage.
- The closing of the Medicare prescription drug "doughnut hole."
- Expanded coverage for young adults to age 26 under their parents' health insurance.
- A requirement that insurers spend at least 80 percent of your insurance premium directly on your care or refund you the difference.
- Additional funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP.
- The opening of the new state insurance exchanges in 2014, expected to bring affordable health insurance to an estimated 16 million uninsured Americans.
Congratulations, kid. Here's hoping the next four years will treat you a little kinder.
You also can follow me on Twitter @omnisaurus.
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