I was very encouraged as I began reading Joe Balyeat’s July 11 guest column in which he outlined his financial concerns with the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” How to pay for health care is a debate worth having and re-visiting often as the repercussions of legislation reveal themselves over time. I was less enamored as the remainder of the guest column lapsed into the typical rhetoric of the right. Phrases such as “panel tells doctors what types of care won’t be allowable,” “slanted news coverage,” “complete loss of economic freedom” “$500 billion stolen from Medicare,” “traded off your freedom,” are inaccurate, inflammatory and do not contribute to reasoned debate.
The Affordable Care Act, among other things, ensures that: 1) Citizens cannot be denied health care coverage for pre-existing conditions; 2) Insurance companies cannot limit your insured benefits if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a disabling accident or develop cancer; 3) A worker can lose or leave a job and still have health insurance; and 4) Insurance companies cannot raise your premiums unless they can show it is related to medical coverage and not to administrative pay and bonuses.
The vast majority of us, according to published polls, support these concepts. Even Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in his comments following the U.S. Supreme Court decision, agreed these were good things. Where he disagreed was how to pay for it. This is a reasonable concern and one that will evolve. But, should we place economic debate above the welfare of Americans? The merits of The Affordable Care Act are obvious. How we will pay for it is not so obvious but should not stop us from going forward.