I am trying to break your heart
On either Thursday, June 21 or Monday, June 25, the Supreme Court will issue its decision on the Affordable Care Act, which I’ve grown to enjoy calling ObamaCare. National treasure Jonathan Cohn describes likely scenarios for how the Court will rule, and the prospects are grim. Likely, some—if not all—of the bill will be struck down.
Watching this epic achievement for working people being erased summarily by a Court increasingly tainted by conservative politics makes me want to holler. Health care in the United States was actually socialized in the dumbest possible way through a law signed by Ronald Reagan. ObamaCare fixes that broken system and strengthens Medicare for decades to come.
To appreciate the nightmare of the Court taking a sledgehammer to the greatest progressive achievement in half a century, you need to read Alec MacGillis’ “What New Law?” The thesis: The people who will benefit most from this landmark bill have no idea what’s in it.
Since hollering won’t do me any good, I think I should at least describe why ObamaCare was such a victory for you and your family. Let’s at least miss what we could have had.
1. A Harvard study found that 45,000 Americans die every year for lack of insurance.
2. After a century of trying, President Obama was the first president to sign a law that would achieve near universal health insurance coverage.
3. For the first time, health insurers are required to spend 80 to 85 percent of customers’ premiums on actual care. More than $1.3 billion in overcharges will be returned to consumers and employers this year.
4. The law allows many Americans under age 26 to stay on their parents’ health plans. Today, as many as three million young people have already taken advantage of this benefit.
5. Tens of millions of people now getting preventive care at no extra cost, including cancer screenings and vaccinations. Last year, 32.5 million Americans on Medicare and up to 54 million Americans with private insurance received one or more free preventive services
6. 3.2 million small businesses — employing 19.3 million workers nationwide — were eligible last year for tax credits worth $15.4 billion or $800 per employee.
7. 3.6 million Medicare beneficiaries saved on average of $600 each as part of the phasing out of the donut hole.
8. Health care fraud prosecutions are up 27 percent. Recoveries are up 58 percent, taking in $4 billion last year.
9. Most health plans cannot deny coverage to children under age 19 because of pre-existing conditions.
10. Insurance companies can no longer cap the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime
11. Insurers cannot drop your coverage due to a mistake on your application when you get sick.
Beginning in 2014:
12. Marketplaces will be established in every state for people and small businesses that buy their own health insurance. Pregnancy, contraception and newborn care, along with vision and dental coverage for children, will be covered in all exchange plans and new plans sold to individuals and small businesses.
13. Plans will no longer be allowed to turn away people with pre-existing conditions.
14. If your income is less than about $88,000 for a family of four and your job doesn’t offer coverage, you may get tax credits to pay for insurance.
15. The national Medicaid minimum eligibility level of 133% of the federal poverty level ($29,700 for a family of four in 2011) for nearly all Americans under age 65.
16. Health care insurers will no longer be allowed to charge women more than men for their coverage.
17. Up to 30 million Americans who are currently not insured will be covered, saving thousands of American lives.
18. How is this all paid for? By slight tax increases on the investments of Americans earning over $250,000 a year, “Cadillac” insurance plans, medical device companies, penalties for businesses and individuals who can afford insurance but choose not to get it and tanning.
Talk about a victory for the 99 percent.