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Repealing health care reform

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Posted: 4 pm ET

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives today launched an assault on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, seeking repeal not modification.

Medicare recipients have already received some benefits from the law, and this move only increases the complexity of retirement planning. Among the changes are the following key improvements.

Partial closing of the the Medicare Part D coverage gap, known as the "doughnut hole." In 2010, individuals in the doughnut hole were eligible to receive a $250 rebate on drug costs. This year, they will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, so long as the ACA remains intact.

Expanded preventive care services. The ACA eliminates copays for many Medicare-covered preventive services, including mammograms, colonoscopies and osteoporosis screenings.

Improved access to insurance for people younger than 65. If you are older than 50 and don't get insurance at work, it has been nearly impossible in some states to buy coverage on your own. Under the ACA, those with pre-existing conditions can join their states' high-risk pools, which are mandated by the ACA. Beginning in 2014, people in this category will have access to even more insurance options through plans offered on state-based health exchanges and expanded Medicaid.

Supporters of the ACA says it will save taxpayers money in the long run and reduce the federal budget deficit by controlling health care costs. Those who would repeal the law say the Congressional Budget Office, which calculated these savings, made mistakes and this will soon be an entitlement program that runs amuck.

It seems unlikely that the Republicans will be able to muster enough votes in both houses of Congress to push through repeal -- and personally, I'm glad. Moving toward broader health care coverage seems smarter and better for people approaching or living in retirement than the GOP's dig-in-your-heels commitment to the status quo.

My recent experience with a death in the family showed me Medicare's strength and some of its warts, and it left me with the conviction that no public health care program is ever going to be perfect -- but having one available is extraordinarily important.

Fundamentally, I agree with this point of view from Calvin Bruce, managing editor of Jackson & Coker, a health care research firm, who said: "One can only hope that the impact and benefits of medical technology, drug discoveries and scientific advancements will overshadow any setbacks experienced in implementing health care reform stemming from renewed debate in legislative circles."

In other words, we can't just stand still.

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January 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm

You already have to buy car insurance if you want to drive. Why is it OK to make car insurance mandatory but not health insurance? Is the difference simply that car insurance is regulated by the state rather than the federal government? What do you think/feel when you get into a car accident with some "deadbeat" who does not have car insurance? Any time someone has to drag themselves to the emergency room for crisis care because they could not afford preventive care (due to not having insurance), it costs all of us much more than that uninsured driver.

Liberal Dave
January 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

@ Michael
"If I am forced to buy insurance then I am not a free person."
Don't try to drive in California. You must buy insurance.

"This saddens me that people have embraced central planning over liberty."
Yes those bridge and highway projects that don't help you at all.
I get it.

"All I ask from Congress is to be left alone."
OK, you don't have to pay income tax or defend our country or accept any of the responsibilities of citizenship in our great nation. You just get the benefits.

January 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I hear what you are saying about not wanting to be forced to buy something. It doesn't seem right. Here's the problem: almost nobody turns down the free medical care that they get if they show up sick or injured to a hospital. We have to provide it to them by law. (EMTALA and others). I guess we could have some kind of program where people who refuse to carry medical insurance, even at a subsidized rate based on their income, can be turned away, you think that would really work? Should I kick poor people out of my hospital? Work for free? There isn't an answer to this that everyone is going to like, but keeping it the way it is where people use their individual freedom of choice when they are well and then rely on the resources of the group when they are in need, just won't work. You ask to be left alone now, but picture yourself or a family member with a severe medical condition. You will sit at home and die? People just aren't wired that way.

January 19, 2011 at 12:27 pm

This article is not honest. The Republican version of health care reform is NOT the status quo or do nothing as liberals like to state. The Republicans want to reform health care without trampling all over individual rights to do so.

The author has an axe to grind and is not blogging from a neutral point of view weighing the pros and conse of each sides argument. Just keep that in mind when reading.

January 19, 2011 at 11:55 am

TxPharm - "This bill lays an infrastructure that will force physicians to become govt employees." Yeah, can you cite any actual facts for that?

"I think most people understand quite well that adding 31 million people for free health care is NOT going to reduce the deficit." It's not free. That's what the whole unpopular "mandate" does: distribute the costs to people.

And just to confirm, you're absolutely okay with those 31 million people not having any coverage at all right now? You're okay with rationing care based on ability to pay?

Michael - You are also "forced" to pay taxes. That's just the cost of living in a civilized society. If you want benefits of society, you have to pay into society. Don't want to participate? Do you really want to be "left alone"? You're free to move to another country. As long as you're in the US, you get to call an ambulance and be seen in the emergency room if someone runs into you on the road, and that costs money.

In this case, you're "forced" to buy insurance because insurance will have to cover new cases that, currently, lose them money. Like kids that come down with cancer. When it comes to health care, we have the choice of letting those kids die, or we make someone pay for the treatment. But who? Forcing everyone to buy insurance, thus distributing those costs, is a two-step around single-payer healthcare system, but it works in a few other countries.

If you'd rather live in a country where your "freedom" is more important than covering other sick people, you'll have to move to one of those tax-free Libertarian paradises like Somalia.

End the Ponzi Scheme
January 19, 2011 at 9:25 am

"Supporters of the ACA says it will save taxpayers money in the long run and reduce the federal budget deficit by controlling health care costs."

Wrong. One of the staffers that wrote the monstrosity has admitted cost control was NOT the target. Getting everyone coverage was the only goal. Forget the savings, they'll never happen.

Of course it should be repealed. Besides being unconstitutional, it essentially dooms the next generation to debt level so great that they could never possibly get out from under it. But then again, more free goodies from the government, it really doesn't cost anything right.

January 19, 2011 at 1:55 am

We the public keep hearing the same Democratic talking points on Health Care Reform. Media seems to skip over the fact that taxes on this bill were front loaded with benefits delayed until 2014. So we've got 10 years of taxes to pay for 6 years benefits, which does not bode well for future effects on the deficit. Democrats claim they will take 500 billion out of medicare when the CBO and they themselves know this is not going to happen. This bill lays an infrastructure that will force physicians to become govt employees. So: Please tell me how you are going to recruit the best and the brightest to go to school for 15 yrs post high school, take on 200K of debt, work 80 hrs/wk, always under the threat of a lawsuit, all for 80K per year? If this bill stays as is, in ten years you will wait 3 months to see a nurse, and if you are at death's door, possibly a marginal foreign doctor allowed in after they drop standards for licensure to add 31 million people to the roles. I think most people understand quite well that adding 31 million people for free health care is NOT going to reduce the deficit. Plus, a very simple concept: The Federal government is BUSTED. The states are BUSTED. We do not have the money to add on another entitlement program when the ones we have threaten to destroy our economy in very short order. Medicare is due to go bust in 2017. Oh and they're going to take 500 billion out to fund Obamacare.? Oh, OK. I guess that means I can should go open a new credit card account when I'm already 100K in debt. Obamacare is fiscal insanity. We need insurance reform, NOT a government takeover.

January 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Insurance reform would have been both a better goal and an appropriate name for the a(O?)bomination that is ACA. This *will* become an entitlement program run amok if allowed to stand. Repeal is not the only option. It should be removed "by any means necessary" including repeal, judicial review and defunding, among others.

Michael in SC
January 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Government mandates and force does not equal "reform." Compulsion to buy a product I may or may not want is tyranny, plain and simple.

Michael in SC
January 18, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Equating "reform" with government mandates does not make sense. I am not a GOPer because I don't support their wars and market intrusions, but I do agree with their attempt at eliminating this Federal mandate. If I am forced to buy insurance then I am not a free person. I realize that we do not live in a free economy today and that many people are opposed to the free and voluntary exchange of goods and services. This saddens me that people have embraced central planning over liberty. But at least people ought to understand that if the government can force me to buy a product they can force me to do virtually anything - I am no longer free. And as much as important as is your desire to "reform" healthcare, my desire to maintain my liberty is just as important to me. All I ask from Congress is to be left alone.