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Health Care

Should Utah Attorney general be trying to kill Obamacare?

By Serenity Kimball

 

Our attorney general should NOT be spending tax dollars to kill a program that so many Utahns rely on for their health care. And it’s ridiculous to even ask the question because Utah voters made their wishes known when they clearly voted in favor of the ballot measure last year to adopt the full Medicaid expansion as set out in the ACA. It is insulting that our elected representatives think they know what is best for us with their blatant disregard for our vote.

Is the Affordable Care Act perfect? Far from it. It was always an imperfect first step towards increasing coverage for the uninsured and working to correct some of the other more egregious problems with our healthcare system, such as poor coverage for pre-existing conditions. No one was under any illusion that it would fix everything. But pushing to have it declared unconstitutional will do nothing to improve healthcare for Utahns and will set us back further.

In the Attorney General’s statement from December, he stated that they, “filed the case hoping small businesses, individuals and families whose costs and premiums have increased dramatically due to the ACA get the relief they deserve.”

Did premiums go up for some folks? Yes, they did. But according to the nonpartisan research organization, The Commonwealth Fund, premiums were rising every year anyway and may have actually risen less due to the ACA than they would have without it. Additionally, while he seems keen to save some families from higher premiums, where is his concern for the uninsured, for those who can’t afford to pay for insulin or other prescriptions, or the many folks that end up in bankruptcy due to medical expenses they can’t afford? We need to do more, much more, than just complain about the deficiencies of Obamacare.

Personally, I think Medicaid for all is a viable solution for improving the healthcare system and many Americans agree. For those that don’t, the opposition is due to misplaced fears of socialism and overconfidence in the free market system; however, as with most problems, there is more than one solution and we should be able to find some compromises.

Rather than spending resources to repeal the ACA, get it declared unconstitutional and to go against voters by reversing the ballot initiative, state resources should be spent developing alternative policies that would actually improve healthcare and reduce costs.

For example, the system in which most health insurance is provided by employers is a quirk that resulted from the salary freezes imposed by the National War Labor Board due to labor shortages during and after World War II. What seemed like a benefit at the time, has resulted in an overly complex system that no longer works in the modern era in which workers change employment frequently and in which insurance companies design plans that appeal to the needs of employers rather than patients in need of healthcare. Getting rid of employers as the middleman is one needed correction that could push healthcare reform in the right direction.

The other change we should all be able to agree on is that it is well past time for us to demand a not-for-profit healthcare system. The free market works great for certain industries, but for most healthcare problems, we have no control over what we need so it is not subject to the normal influences of supply and demand. Other developed countries spend much less than us for healthcare because they are not-for-profit. To accomplish this here will require legislators willing to stand up to the large insurance companies and to oppose corporate healthcare money and lobbyists; and it is our job to elect them.

Simply getting rid of the ACA will do nothing to improve either costs or efficiencies of the healthcare system for Utahns and the time and money of the attorney general should not be wasted fighting it. Rather, efforts that will actually help Utahns such as decoupling insurance from employment, creating a not-for-profit system and even Medicaid for all will do much more to improve healthcare for all of us.

 

By Steve Clark

 

What if there were a law that in order to get enacted, the sponsor had to blatantly and deliberately lie and deceive the American public in order to get passed? Anyone remember President Obama saying, “Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Obamacare) your health insurance costs will go down?” It was a deliberate lie and deception then, and remains so today. The truth is that Obama and the Democrats knew the ACA would dramatically increase the cost of health insurance even as the words were coming from Obama’s mouth.

Today, only nine years after passage, millions have watched their health insurance premiums virtually double, and their insurance deductibles balloon to $5,000, or even $10,000. For many, this means they have insurance in name only because they cannot afford to use the very insurance the government now mandates that they must have.

Or how about, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” or “If you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance?” Two more definitive lies deliberately made in order to deceive the American public. Anyone remember this phrase; “First we have to pass the ACA before we can read what’s in it?” And then to top it all off, the law passed only on the basis of the mendacity of its creators, compelled everyone to buy the government dictated insurance whether they needed it or not, or whether they could afford it or not. In the process, the words, “affordable healthcare act,” became perhaps the biggest oxymoron in American history.

Now comes a further irony. Though the mandate still exists in law, President Trump has removed the penalty for not buying ACA approved insurance, making non-compliance completely meaningless. President Obama himself said that without the mandate, the ACA is unsustainable because the only way for Obamacare to be financially viable, everyone must buy it whether they want it or not.

With the penalties gone, people are abandoning Obamacare in droves, prompting 20 state attorney generals to agree with Obama that the law is now unworkable, and have sued to put an end to it. Conservatives nationwide cheered, and I, for one, applaud the fact that Utah is one of the participating states.

Republicans (and probably most democrats) know that the ACA is so deeply flawed that the only solution, is to repeal it and start over, keeping the good things the ACA brought and abandoning the flaws and defects that threaten both our pocket books and our liberty.

Time and again, Republicans have put forward reasonable proposals to resolve these defects, only to have Democrats and a tiny handful of liberal Republicans rebuff them. It is obvious that Democrats have made the decision that denying the President a win on this issue trumps (pun intended) acting in the best interests of the American people.

Conservatives believe people with pre-existing condition should be able to get insurance coverage just as much as Democrats do. We applaud the ACA provision that allows children under age 26 to be covered under their parent’s policy. What we object to is the government forcing us to buy a commercial product against our will and sicking the IRS on us if we decide not to do it.

For conservatives, the issue is far less about the various provisions of the ACA, but the question of individual liberty; i.e. should the government have the right to compel us to buy something against our will. If people want health insurance, they should be able to buy it, existing conditions or no, but neither should anyone be compelled by an oppressive government to have to do so.

It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to set aside partisan bickering, work together and with healthcare providers to hammer out a reasoned, workable solution that provides affordable insurance coverage for all who want it. If subsidies are involved, as they are with ACA, only citizens should be eligible to receive them.