What others say: Not the time to reverse course on affordable health insurance

  • Monday, June 15, 2015 8:25pm
  • Opinion

The Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of people get health care, is now fully woven into the nation’s social fabric. As President (Barack) Obama said Tuesday, there is something “deeply cynical about the ceaseless, endless, partisan attempts” to roll back the progress already made.

His remarks at a forum of the Catholic Health Association come only weeks before the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that could, if the administration loses, eliminate federal tax subsidies in 34 states that have made it possible for millions of Americans to buy health insurance. Mr. Obama was right when he said on Monday that the court probably shouldn’t have even taken the case. Unfortunately it did, and no one can predict how the deeply divided court will rule.

The administration claims to have no contingency plan should the subsidies be invalidated. But some states, fearing the worst, are beginning to consider options, none of which look easy to carry out.

The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies in every state for low-income people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the health program for the poor. Opponents of the act have seized on careless wording in the law to argue that subsidies should be available only in states that have established their own health insurance exchanges but not in states that chose to use HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s exchange. That defies common sense and the understanding of all those who passed the law in 2010. There was never any question that the A.C.A. subsidies would be available on exchanges in all the states.

There is an easy solution for the problem. Congress could pass a one-sentence law clarifying that subsidies will be available on all the exchanges. That’s what polls show Americans want. But congressional Republicans are not about to do anything realistic to help millions of people keep their health coverage, and are bent on destroying the law that made coverage possible.

As Mr. Obama noted, since he signed the law in March 2010, more than 16 million uninsured Americans have been covered, driving the uninsured rate to the lowest level ever recorded. Americans can no longer be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Health care prices and employer premiums have been rising at very low rates. There are no more annual or lifetime limits on how much insurers have to pay for care. And as for the claim by Republicans that the program is a “job killer,” the nation has experienced 63 straight months of private-sector job growth, starting the month the act was passed.

It would be tragic at this point to reverse course and put millions of Americans at risk of disease and death from inadequate heath care or potential bankruptcy from inability to pay staggeringly high medical bills while disrupting insurance markets that depend on large enrollments to stabilize prices …

— New York Times,, June 10

More in Opinion

Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink promotes getting immunized with the flu shot this winter. (Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Health and Social Services)
Immunize when you winterize

An annual flu shot plus the COVID-19 vaccine protects Alaskans and our health care system, too.

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Dunleavy’s first act as governor was unconstitutional

That’s according to a ruling by Senior U.S. District Judge John Sedwick.

This Aug. 3, 2021, photo shows Juneau International Airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration shared recommendations on Thursday for improving aviation safety in the state. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: How the FAA will improve the margin of aviation safety in Alaska

Alaska depends on aviation more than any other state…

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Perspective of an educator in a ‘high-risk’ group, part 2

During some of the darkest days of my time in ICU, it was obvious where we all live is a special place.

Lawmakers havereturned to the Alaska State Capitol for a fourth special session. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Revenues should be determined before more PFD spending

The governor believes the dividend drives the entire calculation. Sadly, he has it backwards

Ronnie Leach. (Photo provided)
Point of View: For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, #weareresilient

At the onset of COVID-19, we expanded our services in a way to ensure COVID-19 consciousness.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion:Where’s Don Young when America needs him?

Once upon a time, avoiding political controversy was completely out of character for Young.

Peter Zuyus
Voices of the Peninsula: Seniors appreciate vaccination efforts

To those who have worked to encourage vaccination we say: Be proud, you are, in fact, saving lives.

Jackson Blackwell (courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Carbon dividends are the bipartisan climate solution

By levying a gradually increasing price on carbon, U.S. emissions will be slashed by 50% in 15 years.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Dunleavy: Facts Matter

Political opportunists care more about spreading political untruths than accepting the facts.

Steve Hughes. (Photo provided)
Voices of the Peninsula: We are all victims of COVID-19

It is disturbing to hear, as a triage nurse, the many reasons cited for not getting a vaccine that are based on misinformation.

teaser
Opinion: LGBTQ+ Alaskans deserve respect and dignity

Like every state that lacks equality, we need federal protection.