Tag Archives: ACA

SCOTUS slaps down women's health concern

I’ll try to figure out what the Supreme Court said Monday in that much-anticipated Hobby Lobby health care case.

The court ruled 5-4 that family owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby, can exempt contraception coverage for women who work for the company under the Affordable Care Act.

So, let’s see if I have this right: If a female employee of Hobby Lobby wants to prevent a pregnancy through contraception, she is unable to apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act because, again as I understand it, her employer disagrees with the policy on religious grounds.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/supreme-court-hobby-lobby-decision-obamacare-108435.html?hp=f2

The employee, therefore, is denied coverage because of her employer’s devotion to his or her faith.

I have to agree with critics of the ruling. Women, they say, have seen their health care put in jeopardy because of a narrow court ruling that applies only to contraception.

Let the firestorm rage all over again.

Hobby Lobby is a fine company. My wife and I shop there on occasion for picture frames and Christmas decorations. It’s also owned by a devote Christian family. I honor their faith as well.

What is troubling is the denial of contraceptives under the ACA and why it’s such a bogeyman in the eyes of Hobby Lobby.

Here’s how Politico reported it: “The contraception coverage mandate isn’t central to the law, the way the individual mandate is. By letting some closely held employers — like family-owned businesses — opt out of the coverage if they have religious objections, the justices haven’t blown a hole in the law that unravels its ability to cover millions of Americans. They didn’t even overturn the contraception coverage rule itself. They just carved out an exemption for some employers from one benefit, one that wasn’t even spelled out when the law was passed.”

The ruling along those true-blue political lines: the five conservative justices outvoting the four liberal ones. Well, that’s the way it goes. I accept the ruling as legit, as opposed to some on the right who two years ago raised holy hell when the court voted, also 5-4, to uphold the ACA.

I accept the ruling. I surely don’t agree with it. I believe a privately held company owner has been given license to stand in the way of a woman’s health care needs on grounds that have little to do with, oh, health care.

Uninsured rate is falling

Politicians of all stripes have this way of spinning news in their favor and against their opponents’ interests.

That’s how the game is played. Take the Affordable Care Act. President Obama has declared something of a victory in that 7.1 million Americans signed up for the ACA before the March 31 open enrollment deadline; he had set a goal of 7 million signups. Republicans on the other hand declared the signup period a failure because of the rollout snafus and clumsiness that followed.

Now comes some interesting news from the Gallup Poll organization. The rate of uninsured Americans is the lowest since 2008, the final full year of George W. Bush’s presidency.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/168248/uninsured-rate-lowest-2008.aspx

What does that mean?

Let’s see. The president said when he took office in 2009 that he intended to make health insurance available to more Americans and to bite into the number of uninsured Americans, which stood at 40 million or so, give or take.

The ACA passed. The enrollment period opened up. Americans got signed up through the exchanges. More Americans now have health insurance than before enactment of the law and, according to Gallup, the rate of uninsured Americans is at a six-year low.

The improvement is greatest among poor Americans and African-Americans, says Gallup. The rate of uninsured among all age groups has declined.

Is this an unqualified success for the Obama administration? It is not. The president made a couple of promises he couldn’t keep, such as the infamous “you can keep your doctor” pledge. The law will need to be tweaked, fine-tuned and improved along the way — which is the norm for almost all major pieces of legislation.

However, to say the ACA has “failed” and that it is going to “bankrupt the country” and create “death panels” to determine who lives is dishonest in the extreme.

The survey noted here suggests that the administration’s major goal — to provide health insurance to more Americans — has been met.

ACA deadline passes, the sun rose this morning

What do you know? The Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment deadline passed and Planet Earth didn’t spin off its axis.

Here’s another tidbit: The White House announced that it met its enrollment goal of 7 million Americans signed up for health insurance. Was the deadline glitch-free? No. But it came, it’s history and millions of Americans who didn’t have health insurance before have it now.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/04/obamacare-enrollment-deadline-special-enrollment-105239.html?hp=t1

Let’s remember, though, that critics will continue to declare the law a total failure. They’ll continue to assert that the president runs the most “lawless” administration in the history of the Republic. They’ll suggest the White House “cooked the books” on the ACA enrollment numbers. They’ll likely have more votes in Congress to seek to repeal the law.

President Obama asserted the following today in a White House Rose Garden ceremony: “There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead, this law is helping millions of Americans.”

We’ll need to remember that many of the ACA’s basic tenets came from Republicans. One of them, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, helped push through a health care law in the Bay State that became a significant model for the federal law that was enacted in 2010. Romney would try to distance himself from his own creation as he ran for president in 2012. The strategy didn’t work, as Americans re-elected Barack Obama.

Yes, some Americans got an extension on the deadline. Those are the folks who got hung up in the application process. The White House gave them a few extra days to finish it up.

Where this law goes from here remains a bit of an open question. It shouldn’t be repealed. It needs tweaking, just as Medicare needed it when it was created in 1965. That program has been a godsend to elderly Americans.

Of course, GOP efforts to toss out the ACA will continue. However, as more Americans sign up for health insurance and report back the positive impact of that coverage, there might be enough of a reaction that sends a stern message to ACA critics: Back off; the law is working.