Don’t Lose Health Care Reform

Image via iStockPhoto/Marcela Baresse

Election Year 2012 marches on to November.  Here and there social causes are used as political footballs. Some candidates surviving the latest tackle will see a few more yards.  But there is one national issue that we, particularly women of all ages, cannot allow to be benched – health care insurance and the basic reforms that were pushed through by the Obama Administration.

Republicans are still hoping the Supreme Court will strike down the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on the grounds that it forces Americans to pay for a service whether they want to or not – meaning chipping in for their medical care.  There is a simple remedy to this. Don’t make folks pay out of pocket ad instead create a class of tax on citizens and corporations, like a social security tax, that takes a tiny percent of dollars earned and stick it in a walled off account where nothing but a national insurance program can touch it.  That way it will not be an entitlement left to pork-barrel politics.

There is also a conservative core against the provisions to provide birth control free of charge to all women.  This has probably been the biggest distraction in the last month or so when Catholic health providers (and others) said they would neither provide birth control to those who seek it nor would they allow it to be part of insurance benefits for their own employees. After shouting loudly and getting President Obama to react, a work-around was created to have employees enroll in outside providers specifically for that coverage. But even that has not satisfied the anti-birth control movement.

As difficult as it might be, let’s pause and set those two issues aside, as large as they are, and accept for one moment that for capitalist reasons we may never agree that the richest country in the world should find a way to provide nationalized insured health care coverage to all its citizens not tied to employers and based on employment.

Now, with those blinders on, let’s look at the very fundamental tenets this round of health care reform has put in place that no one should deny is right and proper:

  1. That no preexisting condition will stop you from getting insurance coverage. You are not at fault because you have been ill. And you should not be left to your own devices to pay for all treatment that would burden the 99%.  Remember this — without this provision, any child with asthma or a child who survives a life-threatening and life-altering illness like cancer might never be able to buy health insurance as an adult.  Without health insurance, this could leave families on the welfare rolls just to have continued coverage after they lose everything else.
  2. That health insurance is portable.  That when you change jobs, or lose a job or change the state you live in, you do not have to change or diminish your health care.  Being forced to stay put can be damaging to the fiscal needs and care in a family. Sometimes great health care is found in other states. Families with sick children sometimes move so their children who need on-going treatment can live closer to a specialty hospital. Should they have to choose?
  3. Covering young adults.  With the patchwork of employee-based insurance we have now, “Obamacare” added a provision that is helping keep more than 1 million young adults between the ages of 21 and 26 become or stay insured. They can continue to be carried on their family plan (if their family has a job and a family plan) even if they’re not full-time students. With record unemployment, under-employment, and too many jobs with companies which do not provide group insurance, we are at least allowing that age group a safety net at a time when a serious illness or accident (perhaps on top of staggering student loans) could ruin them for the rest of their lives.

Simply put, the Act as it stands insures that:

— No sick child will be prevented from being insured for the rest of their lives, and

— No adult or family can be dropped from a policy because their health has declined or is at risk.

So if there is one thing in this election which touches all of us and should be a fundamental underpinning of a morally correct government, it is caring for the sick. How can anyone, even in this galvanized climate, dispute that?

— Helen Jonsen is the former editor of workingmother.com where you can find an archive of her blog there at Working Mom Daily Bread. 

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