Monday, December 30, 2013

Dealing with Obamacare as reality

Now that the website is working, and people are signing up for and receiving health insurance, Obamacare is moving from the theoretical to the practical.

Put another way, it is here to stay.

That it needs to be improved is obvious. The question is whether voters will reward Republicans who continue their Johnny-One-Note approach of insisting that the law be repealed.

How would repeal affect those who are now insured under provisions of the Affordable Care Act?

It was only a couple of words, but there may be significance in former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s admonition on Fox News Sunday to “fix Obamacare, period.”

There is a big difference between fixing the Affordable Care Act and repealing it.

Fixes might include:

1) Introducing a basic government insurance program, an idea referred to as the public option when the program was debated in 2009 and 2010. Somehow, in the midst of the complexity of the issue, this might prove to have real public appeal.

2) Further lowering eligibility requirements for Medicaid, thereby guaranteeing insurance for more people who still can’t afford it on the exchange. The last few months prove, if nothing else, that the public is finally realizing how expensive health insurance is, and how much it costs their employees.

3) Increasing subsidies for individual insurance and lowering penalties for employers when the employer mandate kicks in 2015. This would encourage employers to drop group insurance plans and move the country to a more logical insurance system that embraces individual responsibility.

4) Lower the eligible age for Medicare to 62, thereby encouraging more early retirements and opening up employment opportunities for younger people.

The question is whether the Republicans will participate in the debate and bring some constructive ideas to the table. They have long blathered about how great the world would be if insurance companies could compete across state lines.  It has been documented that this assertion is not true, but why not talk about it.

It pays to know what the opposition is up to, and Democrats may yet be rewarded for at least tackling the health coverage issue, because most people don’t really want to go back to the way things were. 


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