Health Care Reform Revisited

Yesterday, several pieces of the new health care reform law — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — went into effect. To wit:

  • The part where adult children can stay on their parent’s (or parents’) plan until they are 26;
  • The part where children with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage;
  • The part where an insurer cannot cancel insurance when someone files a claim;
  • The part where there are no more caps on benefits a person can receive in a lifetime;
  • The part where insurers can’t charge for preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies;
  • The part where high-risk pools are created for people who have been denied coverage because they have pre-existing conditions.

(I like this graphic from the New York Times that will keep tabs on and grade the progress of health care reform. It’s simple, straightforward, and clear.)

Democrats up for election in November are running away from this law. “I didn’t vote for it. Nope, not me.”

Republicans are vowing to repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (not that they call it that; they call it Obamacare — just so their constituents aren’t mislead). John Boehner of Ohio says the law ruins the “best health care system in the world.”

Really, Rep. Boehner? The system that leaves sick people out, that leaves up to 36 million people without coverage, that raises prices every year? The system that makes small businesses agonize over being profitable or insuring their workers? The system that puts seniors — who arguably use the most healthcare and prescription drugs of any other demographic — into a “donut hole” wherein they have to decide to buy their medicines or food until they get out of the hole? That “best system in the world”?

I wonder what parts of the law opponents want to repeal the most. The six elements listed above? If I were the parent of a recent college graduate (not yet I’m not!) or the parent of a chronically ill child (knock on wood that I’m not), I’d be pretty steamed about that. If I were a person with a pre-existing condition without insurance, I’d be pretty happy to throw my hat into a high-risk pool and buy some insurance knowing I couldn’t be denied. And angry if someone wanted to continue to deny me good health.

(Technically, since I’m pregnant, if I had to switch coverage or buy coverage now, I would count as someone with a pre-existing condition. And I could instantly and easily be denied. Because I’m PREGNANT. Which is the party of “family values” again?)

As you can probably sense from the tone of this post, I could just scream.

I know that jobs are still lacking. Poverty rates are high. I know that the economy still sucks. I thank God every day that my husband and I are both working; that we have health insurance, the majority of which my employer pays. Technically speaking, we’ve come out of the recession (that started in 2007), but it doesn’t look like it from the trenches. I get it; I do — the anger against the administration (the fear and vitriol, I don’t get), the (perennial) calls for change in Washington.

But I just don’t understand how going backwards will help us going forward. The Bush tax cuts haven’t worked to cut the deficit or create jobs for the past 10 years. How would extending them cut the deficit or create jobs in the next ten years? (And don’t get me wrong, I like me some tax cuts. Is it wrong to hope they just let the tax cuts for the rich expire?) How does the Republican’s Pledge to America fix anything? (Answer: it doesn’t.)

In conversations I have been having, both virtually and IRL, a number of people have expressed frustration regarding the upcoming midterms. Their frustrations are similar to mine, and among them are: Why can’t the Democrats win? Why do they give every appearance of being stymied and ineffective?

My answer: Because Dems are independent thinkers (good) who want to hold onto their jobs (not necessarily good). The Republicans will work together (with each other) to block, stymie, filibuster, and otherwise say NO to any idea of the administration. They will, to a man or woman, use inflammatory language, a conservative social agenda, scare tactics, and misleading statements/statistics to justify their position. They walk in lockstep to stay in power. And it works. (The Tea Party may disrupt this trend; we’ll see.)

Plus, Nancy Pelosi is really not that likable.

I haven’t given up on the Democrats in November. But we have to go vote. HAVE to. We cannot sit at home and let our country, our economy, our future, go backwards. I know the recovery has been slow. My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck, just like so many of you.

Don’t give up and don’t stop watching the news. Educate yourself and educate others —  don’t fight with them, educate them. If they won’t listen, there’s not much you can to, it’s true. But don’t fight; don’t add to the nastiness.

An ‘R’ vote in November (or a Tea Party vote) for so many of us would be voting against our economic self interest.

I wish everyone could see that. I do.