It has been a week of whirlwind, frustrations, and disappointments for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). To better describe it in the words of Senator Max Baucus (D-MO.), “I just see a huge train wreck coming down.”
First of all, there has been speculation that lawmakers and Capitol Hill aids could be exempt from entering the insurance exchanges under the ACA.
Why do we care? Well, it seems hypocritical if Capitol Hill leaders remove themselves from a pivotal provision of the ACA. As Senator David Vitter (R-LA) rightfully states, “It’s unfair and downright arrogant for the architects of Obamacare to say, we know how bad this will be for you, so we’re leaving ourselves out.” Currently, congressional staff members are covered through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and are subsidized approximately 75 percent of their premium cost. The concern is that this will not be the case if the members and aids actually enter the exchanges under the ACA. According to a Politico article, the junior aids could be billed with high health care costs, prompting them to look for a job elsewhere; for senior staffers, they may opt to retire or join the private sector to avoid the financial burden.
However, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a key architect of the ACA, explains that there are confusions about the ACA and assures that the federal government will continue to subsidize and provide plans in the exchanges. Waxman also claims that there would be no additional costs to the lawmakers and to their aids. A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz states in an e-mail that “Members of Congress will not receive anything that is not available to the public. They are going to get insurance on the marketplace, just like individuals [who are] uninsured and small businesses.”
Second of all, the Commonwealth Fund’s 2012 biennial health insurance survey reported that 11.7 million individuals ages from 19 to 25 were uninsured during 2012. This is a significant seven percentage point drop from 1.9 million in 2010. However, as Kaiser points out, this decline is not reflected in other age groups. Ultimately, the study finds that the number of uninsured young adults declined between 2010 and 2012. The survey finds that in 2012, almost 46% of adults (19-64 years old) are considered uninsured or underinsured. It also finds that there are significant amount of low-income individuals who are uninsured as well as millions of people facing high medical bills.
Overall, there are many uninsured Americans who are unable to afford health care coverage. Even with the ACA on its way to being implemented, the hopes of providing coverage for every American are not promising. Medicaid expansion varies with each individual state.
In my previous post, I looked at the high rate of uninsured Americans across the states. Approaching a similar conclusion, I believe that some states would actually benefit from the expansion of Medicaid. However, there are some extreme financial penalties for other states if they did choose to expand.
It is clear that the ACA has several issues that need to be addressed. It created partisan divisions on healthcare within our own government but also presented an economic problem in our already staggering economy. In order for this country to resolve any issue, congressional leaders must come together and start working collectively. Some may have to compromise but that is a necessity when dealing with tough issues such as healthcare.