Who’s Really In Charge of the Affordable Care Act ?

posted Sep 28, 2013, 6:06 PM by Willie T. Butler   [ updated Sep 30, 2013, 7:34 AM ]

It is time to start a conversation on the viability of the recently enacted Affordable Care Act (ACA), frequently referred to as Obamacare. October 1st is the official start of open enrollment throughout the nation, but you would not know this by the lack of promotion or information within many of the 34 dissenting states.

Virginia is one such state. Though it prefers to be called a Commonwealth [defined as a "government based on the common consent of the people"], the fact is, less has been done in VA to prepare [in compliance with federal law and a 2013 Supreme Court ruling] for the stark changes the Affordable Care Act will generate. With over 889,000 Virginians without healthcare coverage, some 13.2 percent of its population—including some under-insured—what is the Commonwealth waiting for? (This information along with recently determined facts about eligibility under the Affordable Care Act is available at www.vhcf.org.)

I mean what is really at issue here? The federal legislation and law upholding the Affordable Care Act is a mandate imposed on every American and every state, and the benefits it will provide to over 35 million Americans without any insurance, or simply inadequate or un-affordable healthcare coverage today is guaranteed to each American. But if the benefits this law guarantees are not offered or made readily accessible, what benefit are they?

Is the issue really healthcare cost, government intrusion on the right to privacy or political sabotage both regionally and nationally? Clearly, the war of ideological differences between Republicans, Democrats, Liberals and the Tea Party pose a major platform of political will and opposition; with each attempting to out maneuver the other. But is there another more pressing matter that we just are not talking about? And, if so, could that issue actually be about “states’ rights?”

Specifically, I wonder whether our elected officials believe that state’s rights should prevail under the U.S. Constitution (10th Amendment) and therefore trump individual American’s rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” which, in this case are offered through the Affordable [Health] Care Act? Has it become acceptable public policy for our state-level and national representatives to hold hostage specific rights and privilege accorded to all but not distributed to some who reside in a dissenting state?

Think of it this way. Imagine having $1-million on deposit in a state other than where you are registered as a resident. Should you be denied access to your own funds because the state you live in does not recognize your claim within another state? This is actually very common in estate law cases. A relative dies in the home state and leave an inheritance to a loved one in another state. Or, using a more related example, would “we, the people, have allowed any American [anywhere in the U.S.] to be denied Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits who is legally eligible just because they live in a state that does not want this federal supplement of financial aid undermining their state’s autonomy?

Well, in much the same way offered in these examples, this is the outcome pending in several states that are slow to adopt the Affordable Care Act and provide the state infrastructure, program administration and open exchanges required for the healthcare insurers to set-up shop within their states. October 1st is here, and Virginia and some of the 34 states that attempted to repeal the law are now playing catch-up, but not keeping pace with any reasonable time-line. According to a September 24, 2013 article written by the National Catholic Reporter,residents in states that have no exchange will go to a federally run exchange, again something the government was not ready to handle to the extent necessary. The drafters of the Affordable Care Act did not anticipate that 34 states would decline to set up their own exchanges, but that is what has happened.” So, was this intentional, especially in light of the effort on the part of Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) and the Tea Party to shut down our government just to prevent the full enactment of the healthcare reform act?” Worst, are “we, the people,” simply going to let a handful of maniacs sabotage the well-being of an entire nation?

There are many areas of the Affordable Care Act that will be debated for years to come, but it’s viability as good social reform is not the central argument…not anymore. In a June report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers on whether the cost of health insurance premiums will rise, the report found that costs were not only slowing their rise, but that in some states, mostly those whose exchanges are going to run by the Health and Humans Services Agency (HHS), are actually lower and will be dropping well-below all the miscalculated forecasts that has frightened employers since the act became law.

This raises another interesting little aside. Rumors had run amuck that many employers were going to drop employee coverage, big and small. With the pull-back from an employer mandate for the time being, another study conducted by Wharton’s Mark Duggan, who served as the top health economist at White House’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2009 to 2010, says that of the 5.7 million firms in the U.S., only 210,000 have more than 50 employees. So 96 percent of firms aren’t affected.

Then if you look among those firms with 50 or more employees, something on the order of 95 percent offer health insurance. So, what happened to the “big-bad-wolf” theory that companies would drop health plans and force employees to fend for themselves? Or, how about all the noise by Congress on how higher insurance premiums and the federal employer mandate would hurt this nation, when the mandate only affects 210,000 of 5.7 million companies. No disrespect intended, but should less than 1% of employers and their company plans dictate how the Affordable Care Act should work for everyone else; all 310 million?

Bottom line, “we, the people” need to act to allow genuine compassion for our fellow citizens and not intentional distortions of the truth simply to undermine President Obama and this healthcare reform act. Those who believe in God should also believe in loving other as we love ourselves or, if you are Christian, learning to love your neighbor as yourself. This would be a caring sentiment that needs no political or state’s rights advocacy to distort our desire for affordable health care. The National Catholic Reporter article got it right when it said:

Certainly religious and civic groups should step up to the plate and help educate the public, especially the poor and working poor, about how the Affordable Care Act can work to improve their lives... Once people realize that their premiums really are not going up as fast as they were, once individuals previously unable to afford insurance can find it, and once the working poor receive just subsidies to purchase what is a basic human right, the implementation will go smoothly.”

I certainly hope you agree. In case you don’t, this is an opportunity to start a real dialogue on the value of government-directed healthcare. Note I did not say government run, as it is still private.

Please join me in opening a forum for this topic. You can check for additional information at: http://www.blog.mylpi.org, where I have written more on the false statements made about the Affordable Care Act, or you can do your own research and let us know at the Kingdom Seed Foundation what you discover. As our brother’s and sister’s keeper, we should want to know and share what we can…

Thank you!