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A Half Full Glass of Health Care Reform

The Accountable Care Act isn't perfect-but there's still a lot to love in this maligned bill that will benefit all residents of Montgomery County.

OK, People ... It’s TIME TO PAY ATTENTION. Time to act like thoughtful adults. Time to stop flinging half-truths and undocumented facts, emotional garbage and hate-filled rhetoric at people who hold differing opinions than yours. Time to stop abdicating our responsibility as American citizens by allowing talking heads and partisan pundits to make up our minds for us. Time to realize that no side has a monopoly on the truth – and that “truth” is always colored by personal experience and self-interest.

This is the first post of what I hope will be a thoughtful and thought-provoking blog on how national and state issues trickle down to the local level and effect real people in Montgomery and Bucks Counties. I plan to focus on the facts that inform my ideas, but I will never present something as fact when it is just my opinion. I want to say upfront that I am a proud liberal as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary: “Not limited to or by established, traditional, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas...Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress...broad-minded.”

So now I'll dive right in with the hot topic of the week: health care reform. I’m for it. And I was pleased and surprised when the Supreme Court of the United States, a.k.a. SCOTUS (aside: just when did the media decide we needed an acronym for everything?) refused to overturn the Affordable Care Act. But do I think this is the best of all possible bills? Hardly. It’s a complex, convoluted, compromised whale of a bill that tried to satisfy everyone­–insurance companies, drug companies, doctors, employers, patients with insurance, patients without insurance, and, of course, competing political interests.  It's a recipe for disagreement and confrontation, if there ever was one. It’s also laughable to label the program "Obamacare" since its signature and most divisive feature –the individual mandate–was originally proposed all the way back in 1989 by the very conservative Heritage Foundation. In 1993, Republicans twice introduced health care bills that contained an individual health insurance mandate. Advocates for those bills included prominent Republicans like Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) who later decided to oppose the concept once it was embraced by a Democratic President. Candidate Barack Obama actually spoke out against the individual mandate, but later sought it as a compromise that might make health care reform more palatable to Republican members of the House. Ah, the folly of youth.

But in all the media bluster and caterwauling over the Court’s pronouncement, some fundamental points–dare I say “truths”–are being swept aside: by the time the legislation is fully implemented in 2014, 30 million more Americans will have affordable access to basic health care; all insured Americans will have access to a wider range of preventive services; vulnerable, low-income seniors won’t have to choose between buying groceries and filling their prescriptions; people with pre-existing conditions will not be denied coverage and hospitals and physicians will be incented to follow best practices and keep people well, rather than only getting paid for treating them once they are already sick.

Is the bill expensive? Yep. It sure is. But so is our current system that relives on cost shifting (i.e. a hidden tax) in the form of higher insurance premiums for everyone (including businesses that provide coverage) to cover the cost of the uninsured. In Montgomery County alone, more than 32,000 uninsured people (7.4% of county residents) are now using ERs as primary health clinics, or only seeking treatment when they are critically–and expensively–ill.

Is this bill socialized medicine? Only if you believe that allowing private insurance companies to sell policies to the majority of Americans under age 65 (with no alternative, i.e. government, option) and retain up to 20% of the premium money collected, is socialism.  Seriously, if that’s socialism ...than the NY Stock Exchange is being run by Bolsheviks.

Today’s sobering fact: 50% of all restaurants in Montgomery County are fast food restaurants, compared to 25% statewide.*

Source:  countyhealthrankings.org

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Josephine July 07, 2012 at 11:07 PM
http://news.yahoo.com/tax-man-cometh-police-health-care-115736849--finance.html EVERYONE PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINK SHOULD COME UP
Jenna Reese July 08, 2012 at 06:00 AM
whatever the govt gives you, it can take away. Once the govt goes to single payor and it will, you are at their mercy. They will decide who gets care and who doesn't. Grandma won't get anything but a pill and end of life counseling every 5 years with a push for physician assisted suicide which is being pushed. Oh and also, govt control over pharmaceuticals will cost many lives, they have been doing some dry runs with drug "shortages". Your private healthcare info won't be private. Now the govt can mandate/tax us to do whatever they believe to make healthcare more affordable - for them - not us. Affordable healthcare does not mean quality healthcare. Of course nothing is free - someone will be paying for all the freebies - us. Now according to the Georgia Stones - the human population needs to be reduced and kept at under 500,000,000. That is in line with UN Agenda 21 - go to the UN website - it's all there. So just think of the possibilities now that big brother will control healthcare. There is no private insurance - it's public-private Partnerships - i.e. govt control of private insurance companies. Now for all the useful idiots that are still under the delusion that the govt wants to "help" the people, take your heads out of your butts and smell the coffee - game over.
Josephine July 08, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I agree with Jenna rightfully put...
Mike July 09, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Sue, interesting way of starting a "thoughtful & thought provoking blog, using a lecturing tone. Anyone who has not read the bill and hired a law firm to interpret it, should not comment. Like reading 3 chapters of Moby Dick, and writing a blog on the whole book. Not even the people who wrote the bill, know what the outcome of this bill will be. This is what scares most of us. A bill this huge, written by a group considered to be the worst ever at their job. This topic does show what the biggest problem facing all Americans is. The idea that Dem and Rep officials are different. They are exactly the same. They have sold us on that idea. They will all do & say whatever is needed, to stay in office forever. How can any American be only liberal or only conservative? Tell me that, and I am thru listening. They are ALL the same. Self serving people playing a game at our expense. Anyone who says Rep are bad or Dem are bad, is a fool. Make them regular Americans. Term limits, no free healthcare (they don't participate in bill btw) and pensions for life. Every "opinion" on here, does not belong to the person who wrote it. It was given to you by a television program, newspaper article, or some other source. Discussing cost ramifications of the bill, what a joke. NO ONE can, or does know. A bill of this magnitude should not have been passed, even though there are some good ideas in it, that most of us agree on. The ideas are easy, the execution of the ideas is the problem.
Mimi July 13, 2012 at 03:31 AM
One of the 21 new taxes is on 'medical equipment' and we will all pay for that even if you have insurance through your work place one way or another. Insurance is NOT free and many companies are now terminating company-sponsored insurance as mine is intending to do.

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