Barack Obama — June 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm

18 Reasons the Affordable Care Act Was the Greatest Achievement for the Middle Class Since Medicare


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.

You can see a complete timeline of when all the benefits of the Affordable Care Act would have gone into effect here.

  • Faye

    WHY did we not have a media blitz of all the good things that are in this bill as soon as it was signed? WHY did we let the right-wing-crazy-people dictate the narrative?

    WHEN are we going to stop letting them do that? WHEN are we going to take our country back from the insane people who are trying to destroy everything that doesn’t look or behave exactly the way they do?

    • Because the right-wing owns the fucking media.

      • That’s not what the right wingnuts claim. But that serves their purpose (lying the the voting public).

  • Are you kidding me???? Near universal health care???? You are eityer lying or drunk. You say nearly 30 million will be covered (nearly means less than), what you dom’t say is that over 50 million are currenlty NOT covered, which means that over 20 million are still left out in the cold. No insurance. This is not near universal health care, by a long shot. There are provisions in this bill that are commendable, and you list them. But you do a disservice to readers by calling this bill something it isn’t: anything resembling universal health care. And your hero, Pres. Obama, and his pit bull (at the time) Rahm Emmanuel, wouldn’t even allow a discussion of a public option. Meanwhile, these bastards get free healthcare courtesy of the Us taxpayer. The law is crap, compared with what we need. And these guys are getting it for free, while over 20 million americans have nothing at all. My guess, if you even answer, is that you will only focus on the good parts, say it’s better than what republicns would have done (nothing), but you won’t deal at all with the fact that you mislead by saying this bill approaches anything resembling universal coverage. It is a disgrace that when the american people are hurting this, much, we have a democrat in office who offers so little:

    • Ealasaid

      It is much more a disgrace that people like you complain so very much and you offer absolutely NOTHING.

      • So speaking my mind in a democracy is now just “complaining”? And how am I offering “nothing”? I am asking why it was necessary to steer nearly 30 million americans into the hands of the private insurance industry, which is mostly responsible for the health care debacle we are in in the first place. Here’s what I offer: Universal, free health coverage for all, or Medicare for all. No private health insurance. What most countries in the world have. It cannot be overturned by a court. And it is far better than what the affordable care act offers. And by the way, Ealasaid, you didn’t deal with my main point. That calling the affordable care act “near universal health coverage” is disingenuous when it, by design, leaves more than 20 million without any coverage whatsoever. That is my main point. This bill is nowhere near universal health care. Praise it for other things (allowing kids to stay on parents insurance longer, no pre-existing conditions), but for 20 million people without doctors, it doesn’t matter much at all.

        • “I am asking why it was necessary to steer nearly 30 million americans into the hands of the private insurance industry, which is mostly responsible for the health care debacle we are in in the first place.”

          I can answer that with one word: filibuster.

          • Again, my point, this is not anything resembling “near universal health coverage”. Why don’t you deal with that? And if I remember corrrectly, Obama/Emmanuel wouldn’t even allow a discussion of a public option. At the time, more than 70% of Americans were for a public option. They dropped the ball. And the bill was passed when the dems did an end run around the repubs. Repubs were furious, because dems avoided the fillibuster and allowed it to pass with less than 60 votes. Get your history strait, please.

          • You seem to have something to say, Anthony, but your palpable anger and eagerness to attack someone you don’t even know, clouds any point you might be trying to make. It would be more interesting to know exactly (point by point) how you would have handled getting the bill passed and securing the support of the public.

          • It’s clearly NEAR universal coverage and not universal coverage. Your mean-spirited repetition of myths is a waste of everyone’s time. You NEVER in a million years were going to get Lieberman, Nelson, Landrieux et all to vote for the public option, which can always be added to this amazing framework.

          • I’m sorry. Leaving 27 million out of the equation is not “near” anything except disaster.

          • Learn to spell straight, please.

          • The argument is so off it’s not worth commenting. It’s lalaland nonsense. Much of that 30 million is being put on Medicaid or CHIP. If this bill were just billed as a massive Medicaid and Medicare expansion maybe people would get it.

          • I would love it if it was a massive medicare expansion. That would be smart.

    • I’m glad I only needed to read the first sentence of your comment to realize it wasn’t worth responding to. If I were king, your nonsense would be deleted as to not detract from my wonderful post.

      • desertflower1

        It IS a wonderful post! So much so, that I’ll plaster it everywhere, so that if anything should happen to it, with the “infinite wisdom” on the conservative end of the JUDICIAL ACTIVIST CT, that people will know what they are missing. If it stays mostly in tact, then everyone else will know what they have and can look forward to having in the near future. Thank you, LOLGOP. You did great!

  • Pyro Joe

    Can we please save the obituaries for after the ACA is confirmed dead? I realize that your heart’s in the right place on this one and that you have every right to be cynical, but preemptive despair has never gotten the left anywhere. So can we please wait until the verdict to curl up and cry?

    Come on, I expect this sort of emotional manipulation from places like Huffpo. You’re better then this and you know it.

    • We’ve saved the educating people about this until it’s almost dead. That’s the point. I don’t even get what you mean that HuffPo does stuff like this. I wish they did.

  • There was public support. Over 70% wanted a public option. Emmanuel never did. It wasn’t allowed to be discussed. Realpolitik is one thing, not even allowing a discussion is another. So why delete all my comments? My point was that leaving 20 million people off the bill doesn’t approach universal health care. And the private health care insurance industry got a windfall here, while individuals like me (who pay the majority of my health insurance costs) continue to pay rising costs. Since there’s no public option, and demand has greatly increased, costs will skyrocket. As for Lieberman, et al, they could have been pushed. Other presidents knew how to horse trade, or even threaten members with loss of assignments, etc (read about how Johnson got some of his social programs passed). I just want honesty here. The bill doesn’t cover enough people. It does nothing to drive down costs. And it still leaves us as the only modern industrialized country without a universal health coverage and dependent on a profit-based system. I think it’s a bad bill. And I have a right to express that here, passionately. Deleting my comments won’t make the reality change- that the system is broken. Rose Ann Demoro, exec director of National Nurses United, has said that even though the Affordable Care Act has positive elements, it would leave 27 million without health care coverage (according to Congressional Budget office estimate in March). She states that it has done little to make health care affordable for families (despite its name), as health care costs continue to soar. She goes on to say that it tethers people to a “callous insurance system that treats patients as commodities, not as individuals with individual needs”. You can read her full comments here: And just to make the point one more time, 27 million without health care coverage is NOTHING near universal coverage. Thousands of americans will still die every year because of lack of access to care, this is unacceptable.

    Rose Ann Demoro, executive director of National Nurses United, wrote last week:

    Today Medicare remains a more efficient, cost effective, humane
    system for delivering healthcare, and guaranteeing it to everyone who is
    eligible, in a far superior manner to the broken dysfunction privatized
    insurance system that is based on profit and ability to pay, not on
    patient need.
    Sure, the Affordable Care Act does have positive elements, including
    some restrictions on the abuses that characterize the insurance
    industry, and the provision that lets young adults up to 26 to remain on
    their parents’ health plan.
    But even if Obamacare survives the court challenge – a prospect
    looking increasingly dim – it would leave millions of Americans out in
    the cold.

    Despite its name the Affordable Care Act has done little to actually
    make healthcare affordable. Out of pocket health costs for families
    continue to soar. It does little to crack down on insurance companies
    denial of medical treatment they don’t want to pay for. It leaves 27
    million Americans with no health coverage, according to a Congressional
    Budget office estimate in early March.
    And for many who are covered, it further tethers them to a callous,
    insurance system that treats patients as commodities, not as individuals
    with individual needs.

  • In 2010, while 81% of Americans had insurance, only 6% actually sought medical care. 20% of the people that sought medical care were homeless (in shelter and not) and were treated at community health centers. So what – 80% of the people that had insurance didn’t use it. Many of the articles in the Act are actually good… but a lot of them are useless. Preventative care is a big aspect but as you can see – many people aren’t using it anyways, so how will that change? The majority of the places they choose to take taxes from to fund this program will end up passing the expense on to the consumer and in all reality, while this Act IS good for the middle class: it’s going to hurt people that couldn’t afford insurance to begin with, just in a different way. There are plenty of alternative options that would have been more socially and fiscally responsible BY FAR.

    • I don’t use my preventative care because I can’t AFFORD IT. If my insurance company had to actually spend money on me, maybe my co-pay would be something within the realm of feasable.

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  • Commie Canuck

    You’re a sad pathetic country who will never be a civilized nation, get with the program you fucking idiots.. Its disgusting how you pound your chests and say you’re the greatest country, when in fact, you’re way behind the times.. Cave people

    • Thanks for that comment. I feel enlightened now. I, for one, have never pounded on my chest and claimed to be better than anybody else. I’m sure you watch a lot of media and don’t personally know many people from the U.S.

  • Charles

    45,000 a year really isn’t that much, it’s called selective reduction to an already over crowded population… So now what this bill does is keep all the leeches of society in good health all the non-contributing members to society get yet another free ride, this bill only helps the poor.. And the people who make over 250k are punished .. Why should someone who make over 250k have to pay for the losers of society? Why should someone like me who had made educated responsible decisions in my life and became successful be responsible for the people who aren’t educated enough to make it in life? Why does everyone think the “rich” should pay? My money was made by me, nobody handed it to me, why should I have to hand it to someone else? This isnt Robin Hood.. And the people who contribute to society and have became successful in life deserve better care if they can afford it, people who can’t afford it, other than children, should have made better life choices.. It’s the typical mentality of America today, entitlement… We are not all equal stop trying to fool yourselves into thinking that, some of us are better, competent enough to make a life for ourselves were we can own and afford things.. We are not equal and we don’t deserve equal treatment .. I have worked my ass off in life to get where I am and someone with 5 kids on welfare is not entitled to the same care or luxuries as I am.. That’s life.. This healthcare plan is nothing more than more welfare for the Obama voters.

    • Why should someone like me who had made educated responsible decisions in my life and became successful be responsible for the people who aren’t educated enough to make it in life? Why does everyone think the “rich” should pay? My money was made by me, nobody handed it to me, why should I have to hand it to someone else?”

      The fact that you can say this in all seriousness shows you have no clue how society works.

      • Maybe you should just pay your fair share instead of nothing. Loopholes are big enough for elephants to jump through. Why should we have to carry you on our backs? You should pay the same proportion that we pay, you would still have plenty enough for your lifestyle.

    • Fred

      We may not all be ‘equal’ in the terms you are speaking, but we all deserve to live. I completely agree with you, I don’t want to pay for anyone’s health care who doesn’t work hard to make a living for themselves. But that does not stop me from supporting health care reform. You deserve all the better treatment you can afford Charles, but some of us are not as well endowed as you are. Some of us had different circumstances growing up. Some of us may have been destined to fail from the start just by where we live. So, I’ll tell you this, as an American citizen, I do not have an issue with paying for a health care system that can at least attempt to bridge a gap in our society to help people. And you say this bill only helps the poor. You forgot about the unemployed, students, the elderly, those whose jobs do not offer an adequate health insurance plan. And if you have such a problem paying for the ‘losers’ of society, maybe you should move somewhere else because by your definition, you’re already paying plenty for the ‘losers’; it’s just for welfare, or Medicare/caid or shitty public schools and I could go on. It really puzzles me when people get so upset about health care. I understand that you don’t want to pay for people who do no work for what they need or are lazy or be forced to buy something by the government (excluding our wars, bailouts of the banks, etc). So if you are really so upset about buying into a system that will make America a better and healthier place to live, find somewhere else to live. Because who knows, one day, you might get fired from your job and you’ll be sitting on your ass, without health care, looking for a way to support you and your family should anything happen to them. Then who will you look to?

    • Wow, very sad. I’m glad you think so highly of yourself. Should we all give you a cookie? Oh wait, that’d be a handout. But you deserve it, right? Because you work oh-so hard and only those who “work hard” and get rich are humans worthy of food, shelter, clothing and health care?

  • Commie Canuck

    See?! Told ya… Charles is the lead caveman… Trash

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  • Tom

    The benefits of Obamacare are undeniable (As an Englishman I am fine paying for other people’s healthcare and love our National Health Service) – BUT, I’m not certain that it’s constitutional. Nevertheless, I think the sooner you guys go national, the better for your health system

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  • proud right winger

    Liberal idiots.

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  • Rodney

    Up to 30 million Americans who are currently not insured will be covered, saving thousands of American lives. I’m uninsured. Where in the bill is this? how do I go get checked for the lump on my left testicle without getting charged for it?

    • Rodney

      Where in this bill does it guarantee me that if I don’t purchase a product from a private insurance company that I’m still covered, without having to pay a “fine” to the irs? Show me the actual sentence.

      • Rodney

        Fox viewers view Obamacare less favorably than they do the Affordable Care Act. Sure. What percentage of CNN viewers think they wont have to pay insurance premiums or office visits ever again? What percentage of Rachel Maddow or Wolf Blitzer or The Daily Show viewers think they don’t have to pay a dime ever again towards their healthcare?

        • Rodney

          No no, show me where exactly in the literature of the bill that shows that poor people are saved from medical costs. While you’re at it, show me which small businesses will benefit from this; and show me the percentage of small businesses that survive that make less than 250k a year.

          • Rodney

            When I complain to my liberal friends about the individual mandate part of this bill, my liberal friends say “hey, you have to wear a seatbelt. You have to buy auto insurance.” To that I saw, but I’m not forced to purchase an automobile or be find by the government. it’s not the seatbelt law, it’s not akin to purchasing auto insurance, because I’m not forced to purchase an auto. I am, however, forced to live. I didn’t have a choice as to whether or not my parents banged and decided not to have the doctor stab me in the head with scissors. I just simply lived. But I don’t have to buy a car if I don’t want to; so I shouldn’t be forced to purchase a product from a private entity.

            And if that argument doesn’t sway them, I let them know the individual mandate is a conservative think tank idea. And then they usually shut up, because they hate conservative ideas, unless it comes from a liberal.

          • Rodney

            The individual mandate is like opting out of purchasing a car, but still having to buy insurance for said car I didn’t opt to purchase. Also, Hillary Clinton is the Liberal Dick Cheney.
            What difference does it make? Can you imagine the shit storm you liberal people would have wrought on Condy had she said that about Americans who died overseas?

          • Rodney

            CNN would still be running stories about it and rogue elements within their editing department would still be putting red X’s over her while she gave speeches.

          • Rodney

            Back to my first. Thirty million Americans will now be covered (or be find for not purchasing coverage), saving thousands of lives. What percentage of thirty million is thousands?

          • Rodney


          • Rodney

            I’d also like to talk about Ice Core Samples. Anyone want to talk global warming?

  • Rodney

    Condaleeza Rice 2016. Boom. Eff You Liberal Dick Cheney Lady.

  • Rodney

    Which sentence in this abortion makes you think it’s universal healthcare?

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