Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Washington Watch: "GOP Betting Against Obamacare?"

The GOPers in the House are going for the gold -- voting for the 50th time to repeal Obamacare!

There are so many pending issues that need attention from our legislators (and isn't this why we send them to Washington?) Let's see....immigration reform, women's rights (fair wages), job creation, supporting veterans, extending unemployment benefits, creating a living wage for all workers, strengthening education -- the list goes on.

Instead of tackling our nation's problems and working to strengthen the middle-class, the GOP wants to ride this dead horse to the elections this year. Still no solutions from them. Just campaign posturing. For this recent vote they picked up 27 Democrats who are worried about re-election, mostly in swing states.

They are all traveling on a slippery slope because Obamacare sign-ups are increasing and health care premiums are being lowered for many Americans. Those who have allowed their anti-Obamanism to prevent them from signing up for new health care, are starting to ask..."Is this something that can actually benefit me?" 

A recent HuffPo article Obamacare Just Made Americans Richer Without Anyone Noticing, reports Obamacare "was responsible for about three-quarters of a surprising January rise in U.S. consumer spending and American income growth, according to calculations by the Wall Street Journal." The article goes on to say:
"So what exactly did the Obamacare rollout do to cause such a rise? For one, it expanded the Medicaid program, a critical and highly controversial aspect of the law, by adding up to a $19 billion in benefits in January. On top of that, health care enrollees additionally received another near $15 billion in the form of tax credits as a result of the rollout, according to the BEA. Together the two changes have freed up many Americans to spend money that would have gone towards health care premiums on goods and services instead."
Yes....there are Americans whom have seen significant reductions in their monthly premiums. And then there are those with pre-existing conditions who can now purchase health care. In addition, workers who are tied to a job just to get health care benefits, can now go out and start their own business and secure comparable or lower cost premiums.

Obamacare Part 2?

Access to health care is only part of the problem. Paying for medical services is the other piece of the equation. Medical debts are mostly the result of cost-sharing (the percentage the enrollee pays for each health care service) and deductibles that must be paid before coverage kicks in.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study from last month on Medical Debt Among People With Health Insurance, reported:
"An estimated 1 in 3 Americans report having difficulty paying their medical bills – that is, they have had problems affording medical bills within the past year, or they are gradually paying past bills over time, or they have bills they can’t afford to pay at all. Medical debt – and a host of related problems – can result when people can’t afford to pay their medical bills. While the chances of falling into medical debt are greater for people who are uninsured, most people who experience difficulty paying medical bills have health insurance."
We're not done with health care reform if costs for services are escalating to the point where consumers can't pay. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was just the beginning. Repealing it is not the answer. Augmenting it is.