Friday, September 23, 2011

PPACA One Year Later: Why the increase in the number of the insured matters?

Keywords or Terms: PPACA; 600,000 health Insurance Policies; Obama’s Administration; Legislative Successes; Constitution; Constitutionality; US Department of Health; Grand Father Clause; Universal Health Care Plan

In a time when one in four New Yorkers are living in poverty; and, poverty increases in my own home state of Washington has jumped from roughly twelve percent to about fifteen percent, it is refreshing to know that there has been an increase in the number of people with health care insurance in the United States. Further, in a time when many newly minted college graduates are unemployed, it is not just refreshing to know that many more youths under the age of 26 carry health care insurance; it is heartwarming that in his first two years in the Oval office, President Obama pulled all the strings to make health poverty, a thing of the past for many Americans. The United States Congress passed the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act and Obama signed into law, an act that was over half a century in making. In addition, in a time when seniors and retirees are realizing that their retirement’s investment returns are on a precipitated slope, the news that at least 600,000 Americans, were afforded health insurance, opens the door to other promises of the law, including giving a solid ground to Medicare and Medicaid by saving costs, one aspect of concern for many of our senior citizens. In the spirit of the good news, the blog today offers the argument that increased number of Americans with health care insurance matters, no matter how any critic of the law, cuts or dices it.

Many Presidential advisors, policymakers and press secretaries, past and present, in Obama’s Whitehouse may blush at the news of increased number of Americans under health insurance since the passing of PPACA. However, none of them will now like to swap those sleepless nights of lobbying congressional lawmakers to support the act while moving through congress for something else. With the current news of increased number of the insured, over half a million, just in the first quarter of this year, the sleepless nights and rocky days endured by the early members of the Obama’s Administration, make it worthwhile, no matter what the polls say of their boss’s handling of the economy. The anxiety of Barack Obama being a one term President may be worrisome to some of the advisors in the Whitehouse; however, history will definitely be kind to this administration, for pulling many Americans from health poverty. In life, occasionally, it isn’t how long, but how well. Frankly, if we examine the numbers of legislative achievement of this current Whitehouse, no one, friend or foe, will ever say Obama’s administration has not been productive. If in doubt, call for the legislative records from Congress since January 8, 2009!

Never mind the naysayer, many of us in the left, give kudos to Obama for fighting for what is just and proper in the lives of Americans. The Whitehouse may be daunted by the unyielding unemployment rate; however, Obama’s Presidency has answered one of the greatest questions of our time: Can America have enough heart to take care of her own, when they are desperately in need of health care insurance? With the help of former Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority leader Reid, President Obama and the United States Congress reaffirmed the conviction of our founding fathers in the Preamble as implemented on March 4, 1789:

“WE, the People of United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility [provide for common defense, promote general Welfare], and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Prosperity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.”

Two items in the list of what a government is expected to deliver as affirmed in the United States Constitution were met by Obama’s Administration in the introduction and passing of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act; and, in bringing Osama Bin Laden to judgment. In the first two years of Obama’s Administration, he hashed out one of the constitutional mandates, to promote general welfare of Americans; and in the third year, met and destroyed a prominent enemy of the union; an enemy that created a daunted challenge for his predecessor, the Bush’s Administration. By working tirelessly, day and night, in passing the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act, Obama delivered on the promise of promoting the welfare of the citizens of this country; and, in finding and killing Osama Bin Laden, he secured the blessing of liberty to our union and our prosperity. Despite the endless questioning of the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the truth is, the law met the constitutional requirement of improving the welfare of Americans. For those slates of Republicans running to unseat President Obama, including their far right leaning party stalwarts, it may just be time to read and re-read, what the constitution says; rather than lip-singing what a few shallow-minded Republicans are advertizing about the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act.

We’d like to think that when politicians cry foul, there is really something out there. Late last year, U.S. Department of Health clarified some issues regarding the types of changes that may cause the loss of grandfathered clause, due to the introduction of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There were fears that many plans are going to loose grandfather status after the introduction of the provisions of the law. Given that over time, it is expected that some plans will loose some grandfather clause due to other factors,  including plan size and number of participants, the fact that U.S Department of Health addressed some grandfathered issues in its September 23, 2010 Newsletter, says a lot about the flexibility to changes expected from the law. In addition, it is expected that the U.S. Department of Health will issue other administrative guidelines in addition to the preamble to the regulations provided to insurance companies as footprints to managing health plans. All these efforts have the potential of expanding the number of people buying health care insurance.

A survey of health insurance companies’ reported quarterly profits in Standard and Poor, indicate that many more small businesses are offering health benefits to their employees since the advent of the law. Critics who were looking for evidence that small businesses will close shop because of probably higher premium costs for providing health insurance to workers have been confounded; as data show, close to fifty percent increase in the number of small companies offering health care benefits to their employees. The compliance with the law by small businesses is far from the expectations of the naysayers; and, the dream of carrying health insurance that has escaped many Americans in past, is gradually becoming a reality. This law is good governance, whether its critics believe or not.

Certain criticisms are tenable against the law; however, those criticisms are only because some expected provisions in the law have not phased in, or delayed. As the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act continues to help Americans carry health insurance, Americans will begin to learn of the bests in the law and become attuned to its overall benefits. Republicans are still apprehensive of the provisions in the law and believe that some of the provisions in the law are a dangerous hype and unsuitable for a free-market health care environment. Notwithstanding, we are all witnessing the promise of the law as many more Americans, at least more than half a million today, are carrying health care insurance than last year. Criticisms are good for anything because they allow us to improve or do better; but, Republicans must not shut their minds to the reality that the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act is the right thing for America; not the bogie-man their leaders in congress are making it to be.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not deliver the Universal Healthcare Plan dreamed about by many supporters of reform in the Health Care System; however, it guaranteed that some Americans who were in the past excluded from coverage, because of pre-existing conditions, have a place to go; or, can sleep a little easier, as the phasing in of the law ensures that no American maybe turned down on grounds of pre-existing condition; this is another two to three million potential health care insurance customers. Two prevailing practices of health insurance companies, dumping patients when in need of coverage or when the cost of care seems unprofitable and excluding high risks health insurance customers, are now against the law. Both practices had been exploited by insurance plans and made many Americans go bankrupt before the advent of Patients Protection and Affordable Care Law.  

Americans must be hopeful that being in this country – perhaps we are lacking in per-capital number of available doctors- when compared with some advanced economies; however, none of those countries can best the multiple options of services available in the America’s healthcare system. If we did not reform the health care system, “we’d still be paying more for health care insurance and administrators of many plans will still be excluding a huge number of Americans from the system, while making the few carrying insurance to pay more for those who were freeloading in the hospital emergency rooms." The analogy that the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act is synonymous with socialistic medicine is not only ludicrous, it makes one laugh at anyone making that analogy, as more health insurance companies are making more money as the expected critical mass of customers they anticipated are exploding with the advent of the Patients Protection and Affordable Care Act!
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