Sunday, January 5, 2014

Eugene Robinson: Affordable Care Act Is Here To Stay

Eugene Robinson writes that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to say–and those states that don't fully implement it will be compared unfavorably to those that do. He also looks toward a time when we move past the real flaw of the ACA, its basis in private insurance, and continue toward universal coverage:

Any existential threat to the Affordable Care Act ended with the popping of champagne corks as the new year arrived. That was when an estimated 6 million uninsured Americans received coverage through expanded Medicaid eligibility or the federal and state health insurance exchanges. Obamacare is now a fait accompli; nobody is going to take this coverage away.

...Now, officials in states that refused to participate in Medicaid expansion will have to explain why so many of their constituents—about 5 million nationwide—remain uninsured when they could have qualified for coverage...

...Meanwhile, insurance costs and benefits in states that refused to set up their own exchanges will be compared with those in states that did. There will be questions about how the new law is performing—but no one will be able to pretend it does not exist.

...The real problem with the ACA, and let’s be honest, is that it doesn’t go far enough. The decision to work within the existing framework of private, for-profit insurance companies meant building a tremendously complicated new system that still doesn’t quite get the job done: Even if all the states were fully participating, only about 30 million of the 48 million uninsured would be covered.

But Obamacare does establish the principle that health care is a right, not a privilege—and that this is true not just for children, the elderly and the poor but for all Americans.

Throughout the nation’s history, it has taken long, hard work to win universal recognition of what we consider our basic rights. Perhaps future legislation will expand and streamline the ACA reforms until everyone is covered. Or perhaps we’ll move toward a single-payer system, possibly by expanding Medicare and Medicaid until they meet in the middle.

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