Happy “Obamacare” birthday
As we celebrate the second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, we can’t become complacent. Its opponents, funded by the massive Health Industrial Complex, are stepping up their attacks and lies.
Just the other day I saw the tired old “death panels” online again, and the lie that anyone older than 75 won’t get treatment if they get cancer. I answered with a paragraph from the law that forbids age discrimination.
So, what’s the truth? Well, my friend Carolyn Comeau can tell you that she doesn’t have to worry about her family going bankrupt if her breast cancer should come back. She was diagnosed five years ago with breast cancer. Soon afterward, her husband, Craig, lost his job, but they were able to maintain coverage through COBRA. It nearly broke the bank to pay the premiums, but they got her through treatment.
Just as COBRA was ending and they discovered that Carolyn was uninsurable, the state’s high-risk pool came online, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The coverage isn’t cheap, but it’s not unaffordable for the family, either.
Older Americans are getting more help paying for their prescriptions; 2.5 million young adults are able to stay on their parents’ policies until they reach age 25. People who have insurance no longer have to pay anything out-of-pocket for screening tests like colonoscopies and mammography. Insurance companies can’t dump you if you get sick, and a birth defect is no longer grounds for an insurance company to refuse coverage to a child. That last one alone might have saved my son.
For all the bad press the Affordable Care Act is getting, for all the deliberate lies about what’s in the law, it still has the approval of about half of Americans, and many who don’t approve say it’s because the law doesn’t go far enough.
I’d still like to see a public option. Give me the opportunity to buy into Medicare so I don’t have to send money to insurance companies that spend billions on lobbyists and mega-bonuses for their executives.
For all its flaws — the biggest of which is that more than 20 million Americans will remain uninsured — the Affordable Care Act has improved our health care system and is poised to do a lot more.
So, I’m celebrating today that we finally got that first step to a better system for all Americans.
Leslie Boyd, a former newspaper reporter, is president of the health care advocacy nonprofit, WNC Health Advocates, founded in memory of her son, who died in 2008 because he couldn't access health care. E-mail her at leslie at lettersfromtheleft dot com or follow her on Twitter @leftyletters1, visit Letters from the Left on Facebook. For more information about WNC Health Advocates or to read Boyd's health care blog, visit wncha.org.