Bittersweet Birthday Party For The Affordable Care Act
Although the bill has been almost universally hailed as a revolutionary attempt to nationalize the country’s shoddy health care system, its provisions have become the paragon of partisan politics in the United States. While admirable intentions to extend healthcare coverage, monitor insurance companies and offer preventative services to both the young and the elderly have Democrats like Henry Waxman calling the legislation a “win-win-win proposal," Republicans have mobilized a staunch opposition.
Several federal judges have already ruled the crucial “individual mandate” provision - which requires everyone to purchase health coverage - unconstitutional. Other opponents rely on the claim that the ACA will destroy employer provided health care coverage by allowing greater incentives to pay a fine than extend coverage.
At the same time, the action required to introduce such an extensive system has been rejected by states like Alaska and Florida, who have outright refused corresponding mandates.
All of these responses to the Obamacare package the president promised upon election reflect an attempt to “repeal and replace” the current solution to the some 50 million people living in America without health insurance.
However, as the gatherers at the first birthday celebration of the ACA Tuesday morning said, it is still unclear what opponents of the ACA plan to “replace” it with.
“Their number one goal is simply to repeal healthcare reform,” said Congresswoman Karen Bass of the 33rd District, who believes that it is an invaluable piece of legislation with “simply no way to repeal it.”
Henry Waxman, the U.S. Representative for California’s 30th congressional district, agreed that the bill was something “everyone will benefit from, though you wouldn’t know it from the propaganda.”
Waxman explained the bill’s attempt to resolve a rapidly industrializing nation that “tied health insurance to our jobs” with the increasingly impoverished elderly generation.
Criticizing health insurance companies of self-interest manifested in lifetime caps, rescinded policies and misleading preexisting condition provisions, the congressman justified the bill by deeming it “right from a moral point of view.”
This has proven to be a vulnerable argument when national politics are involved, and many people fear for the future of the ACA.
“Most of the significant provisions have not happened,” said professor Robert Myrtle, an expert in healthcare administration at the University of Southern California.
Although the new laws have already offered children up to the age of 26 to be covered on their parents policies, many of the larger goals remain unimplemented.
Myrtle attributes this to the obvious monumental tax of relaxing an imposed national health care system into the feuding bureaucratic entanglement, and to the underlying issue of funding that is really on everyone’s mind.
“There’s not an awful lot of people jumping up and down to raise taxes. Most of the provisions are to increase the number of people eligible for Medicaid, and the state of California is broke,” he said.
Whether taxpayers will overcome their reluctance as the plan continues to activate through 2014 or be relieved by Republican efforts to kill the bill remains to be seen, and an air of tense optimism made the cake at the first birthday celebration of the Affordable Care Act taste a little bitter.