In a recent WEOS (Geneva) interview, our congressman, Rep. Tom Reed, reiterated his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act. Tom is behind the polls on this one. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that 59 per cent of Americans want to improve the law, not repeal it.
A substantial majority now recognizes that despite its implementation problems Obamacare is turning out to be a pretty good deal. As the New York Times pointed out on Sunday,
“The government website was fixed, and 8.1 million people managed to sign up for insurance through the exchanges. An additional 4.8 million people received coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Three million people under the age of 26 were covered by their parents’ plans. Though the law itself has never been widely popular, most people say they like its component parts … ”
They like the fact those with pre-existing medical conditions can no longer be denied coverage. They are glad they no longer face life-time limits on coverage, or the cancellation of a policy just when they need its coverage the most.
Here in Yates County, a couple earning $30,000 per year can purchase a Silver Policy, covering 70 per cent of medical expenses, on the New York exchange for $3,698 per year, according to KFF. That’s a lot, but the law guarantees that they should have to pay no more than 6% of their income for health insurance. Hence, they would receive a tax credit of $1,899 a year, bringing the true cost of the policy down to $1,799 per year. That’s still a lot, but would this couple want to roll the clock back to the days when they could not afford a decent insurance policy at all — and faced the risk of financial ruin in case of a medical emergency? Not likely, but that’s what would happen if the Affordable Care Act were repealed, as Reed advocates.
It would have been better for this couple and millions more if we could have had Medicare for All, but that wasn’t politically possible. Now the public is taking a very sensible approach: let’s keep what we have and work from there toward something better. Unfortunately, Tom Reed hasn’t gotten the message.
Reed says that once the law is repealed, he would favor re-instituting some of its most popular features, such as the prohibition of denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions and the continuation of children on their parents’ policies to age 26. But these benefits of the Affordable Care Act are part of the grand bargain with insurance companies that made passage of the act possible. Insurers offered these concessions in the knowledge that they were going to sell millions of new policies and make up the financial loss. If the whole act were to be tossed aside, if would be years, possibly decades, before some new compromise, including these provisions, could be crafted.
Reed’s position is untenable, but he wasn’t forced to defend it during the WEOS interview, since listeners were not allowed to phone in questions. Reed’s schedule wouldn’t permit it, we were told. Let’s be sure, as the campaign moves forward, that Reed is forced to answer the hard questions on his obstinacy on Obamacare.