It’s been 100 years since ideological conservatives joined with doctors and insurance companies to kill the first movement in the United States for what was then called “compulsory health care.” Now, on the eve of their epic loss, those who deeply hate the idea that we have a collective responsibility to care for each other are desperately trying to stop history’s clock.
Beneath the tested rhetoric from opponents like the Heritage Foundation and Texas Senator Ted Cruz about a government takeover or Obamacare killing jobs and the economy, we can find expressions of the driving force behind the right’s obsession. One telling quote is from Missouri State Senator Rob Schaaf, who declared, “We can’t afford everything we do now, let alone provide free medical care to able-bodied adults.” Another is the proud statement from Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in New Jersey, who told me in a debate on Obamacare at the FDR Library,
The future of immigration reform could well to be decided in the next three weeks. And this will occur not in the halls of Congress but in Congressional Town Hall meetings across the nation. Anti-immigrant activists are hoping for a replay of the Tea Party’s successful August 2009 attacks on health care reform; by triggering loud public confrontations with Congressmembers in normally placid Town Hall meetings, conservative activists led the media to wrongly conclude that reform lacked public support. But in 2013, progressives are prepared. Immigrant rights activists believe they can use the Town Halls to expose the strength of their support and propel immigration reform to passage. Considering that both sides are prepared and the key element of surprise is lacking, whose activist strategies will prevail?
As even President Obama acknowledges, the passage of immigration reform comes down to whether Speaker John Boehner will allow a House vote. A majority of House members would support the Senate bill if given the chance,
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it’s referred to, is going to dramatically change the way we live our lives and balance our budgets. The largest group of beneficiaries is working people who are currently not covered by their employer yet don’t earn enough to buy health insurance on their own, including a large number of food service and retail workers. These workers currently are forced to pay out of pocket, forgo medical treatment or rely on public health clinics.
You’d imagine these workers would be jumping for joy at the thought of a new federal law requiring their employers to help them meet a critical human need. Unfortunately, there is little recourse for these workers for the next two years. While most of the healthcare dialogue has revolved around the individual requirement, the recent announcement that the employer mandate will be pushed back until 2015 has quietly fallen off the radar.
In my post last week, after the announcement that the employer mandate would not be enforced for a year, I wrote that it was vital that the Obama administration show as much concern for the workers who might be denied health insurance as it did for employers. Specifically, I asked the administration to make clear that a worker would be able to get subsidized health coverage through the new exchanges based on filling out an application, without having to get proof from an employer. On Friday [July 5, the Department of Health and Human Services] issued that ruling.
The decision not to enforce the employer mandate for a year is certain to cost some people health coverage as some employers decide to postpone complying with the law. Their workers, possibly also confused by the delay, may not apply for subsidized coverage. But if they do apply, the new ruling will be a big help to them.
The surprise announcement from the Obama administration that it will delay for one year penalizing employers that do not offer health coverage to their workers is the latest capitulation by the White House to big businesses that want to shirk their responsibility to help pay for health insurance. But the decision leaves huge unanswered questions about whether health coverage for uninsured workers will also be denied.
Yesterday, the Treasury issued a notice delaying for one year, until 2015, the requirement that employers of more than 50 full-time employees (three percent of all employers) report on whether they offer health coverage to their employees. The Affordable Care Act requires that these employers pay penalties when they do not offer qualified coverage or when their workers access coverage through the new health care exchanges. The Treasury’s notice does not change the legal requirement that employers provide coverage,
One of the biggest issues that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is meant to tackle is the lack of health coverage among low-wage workers. While there is good news for many low-wage workers in the new law, many others will still find themselves locked out of access to affordable coverage. Solving their concerns will be one more part of the huge challenge of confronting the power of mammoth low-wage employers in the new economy.
There has been a lot of coverage about the potential for fast food chains and other employers to cut the hours of some of their employees to under 30 a week in order to avoid having to offer them health coverage. To the extent that employers do cut back hours, it will accelerate a long trend toward part-time low wage work; part-timers increased from 17 percent to 22 percent of the workforce just from 2007 to 2011.
The whining from some fast food chains that they won’t be able to afford paying for their employee’s health coverage under Obamacare has gotten a lot of press. But what is more troubling is the recent news that some big chains are concluding that the costs won’t be nearly as high as they had projected. The reason: their employees won’t be able to afford the health insurance and will instead pay a fine and remain uninsured. This fight is just the first battle in the coming war over Obamacare that will center on those who get left out. Big flaws in the bill will mean that many low-wage workers will be forced to choose between paying huge chunks of their income on premiums or on a penalty that leaves them with no coverage at all. Reformers should take note and get ready for the coming struggle.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Wendy’s lowered its estimate of the cost of Obamacare for each of its restaurants by 80 percent,
The headlines – “Many States Say ‘No’ to Health Insurance Exchanges,” to take one example – make it seem like bad news. But it’s not. It is good news that half the states are refusing to have anything to do with the new health insurance marketplaces being set up under the Affordable Care Act.
One of the biggest differences between the good version of ObamaCare passed by the House and the mediocre Senate version that became law was the question of whether the federal government or states would run the new health insurance marketplaces (called “exchanges” in the law). But resistance by Republican governors is leading to implementation of the law in a way that is much closer to the vision in the House bill.
The new health marketplaces are the centerpiece of ObamaCare, the mechanisms through which people who don’t get health coverage at work but make too much for Medicaid will be able to purchase subsidized health coverage,
Four years ago, my wife and I planted an oak tree on Election Day – our Obama Oak – at the front of our house. The remarkable thing about the tree is how long it holds on to its leaves. I see it from my window, now doubled in height, still holding its crimson leaves, even after Sandy’s winds blew the leaves off of every other tree in the surrounding Taconic Hills. For me, the Obama Oak’s hardiness is a testament to perseverance of a health reform movement and a president, who together completed the 100-year quest to make health care a government-guaranteed right in the United States. With the president’s reelection, that quest is now secure and a new era in American health care begins.
I am sure that skeptics on the left will scoff at the assertion that the ACA launches a new era in health care. After all, a key to securing congressional passage of the Affordable Care Act was that the law did not upend the current system of health care financing in the United States.
Whether it was a newscaster scratching his head over yet another alleged Marilyn Monroe porn film or a conservative pundit worried about Congressman Todd Akin’s hurt feelings, people had silly things to say this past week. Here is a modest sampling.
By a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld most provisions of the Affordable Care Act. In the court’s most closely watched decision in decades, the majority ruled ACA’s provision mandating that individual citizens enroll in health-care programs was a constitutional imposition of a tax. On the other hand, the justices ruled against the expansion of Medicare.
A statement issued by California’s United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals hailed the court’s decision. The statement quoted union Secretary-Treasurer Barbara Blake, RN:
“This is not just an abstract legal decision. Real lives and the heartbreak of real families will be saved because of it. We’ve got more people in California dying each year because they don’t have health insurance than any other state in the country. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the vast majority of us will be covered.”
See these stories:
New York Times (“HEALTH LAW STANDS”
Los Angeles Times (“Healthcare law upheld as a tax measure”)
Washington Post (“What the Supreme Court’s decision on the health-care law may mean for you”)
Talking Points Memo (“SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS ‘OBAMACARE’”