Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Washington Watch: "Obamacare???"

For better or worse, we are stuck with the term 'Obamacare' to describe the Administration's health care reform law.  ( is a law, in spite of 40 attempts by the GOP-led House to overturn it.)

Obamacare will be part of the President's legacy, and once it kicks in, and premiums go down (I hope), and those with pre-existing conditions get coverage...well, maybe this will be a good thing.

In the meantime...there is still much misinformation and the roll-out has been at a snail's pace considering what is at stake.  Democratic office holders are starting to have town halls across the country to explain Obamacare to their constituents. Is this enough?

I've written a couple of blogs about what's in Obamacare and where to get more information. Health insurance and its ramifications are confusing for most people. Those with coverage may not want to make the effort to determine if there are more affordable plans available or tax-credits they are eligible for.

There are many people who have no coverage or inadequate coverage and they are going without needed treatment. Others are paying exorbitant premiums. All are wondering, what will change with Obamacare? A recent field-poll shows that many Californians don't understand Obamacare eligibility. The San Jose Mercury News reported (Aug 21):
"California may be at the forefront of implementing Obamacare, but it still has a mountain to climb informing people that they're eligible for the subsidized or free benefits that are a key part of making the controversial law work, a new Field Poll shows."
The article continues:
"With enrollment in the state's new health-insurance exchange beginning Oct. 1, fewer than half of Californians whose income, age and insurance status qualify them for coverage benefits under the health care reforms knew of their eligibility when the poll was conducted this summer.
Less than half of low-income voters eligible to receive free health coverage next year under the expanded Medi-Cal program knew they're eligible. And only one in three moderate-income voters who aren't covered under an employer, union or government health care program knew that they're entitled to tax credits to reduce their insurance costs."

Already the false information and propaganda has started because this is a political football. Just recently, an elderly friend told me her son-in-law had lost his job because of Obamacare. Others in the room expressed concern that people might lose jobs or existing coverage.

Are there companies choosing to fire workers instead of comply? Probably. Is the GOP going to paint a dire picture and discourage people from signing up? Probably. They don't seem to have any policy issues of their own to put forth.

This will be the hot-button issue going into 2014 and 2016.

Some recent Obamacare headlines:

--Are premiums coming down?

The Remarkable Slowdown In Health Care Costs Since The Passage Of Obamacare (Think Progress, Aug 20):
"A new survey of health care premiums for employer-sponsored health care coverage shows that health care inflation is slowing, further undermining critics’ predictions that costs would skyrocket in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act."

--A pre-existing condition made former Republican staff member Clint Murphy reconsider Obamacare.

A Republican conversion to Obamacare  (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Aug 17)
"Obamacare isn’t perfect, the former political spear-carrier said. “But to even improve it, to make something work, you’ve got to participate in the process. [Republicans] are not even participating in the process.”
He makes a good point...what are Republicans proposing to fix our health care system? Instead, they are debating shutting down the government or delaying the funding of the Affordable Care Act. Until when?  2014, if they get control of the Senate?

In the meantime...while Congress is on recess...the battle for the public opinion on Obamacare rages on.

Democrats are right to get out in their communities this summer and try to get ahead of the curve.....or at least catch up to it.

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