Wednesday, September 22, 2010
For the Health of Our Children
Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.
Tomorrow, September 23, 2010, marks the official kick-off of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress and the President this Spring to reform America's vastly inefficient and ineffective health care system. This reform, of course, has been lambasted by the GOP, the Tea Party and even conservative Democrats as "Obamacare," "socialist" and, yes, even "fascist." We've noted before and we'll reiterate the tremendous need to provide affordable coverage for the 50 million Americans without insurance and to provide a mechanism to bring down out-of-control costs. In addition, we've noted the meager attempt of GOP leaders to provide any sort of vision (beyond "NO!") for this vital issue in our society. And, lastly, we've predicted that the "reform" that eventually was (narrowly) voted for by Congress and signed by the President is inadequate for how gigantic this issue really is. We advocated for a Medicare-For-All program that would truly reduce costs AND cover everyone. However, (as we've noted before) it will, at the very least, provide coverage for some of our most vulnerable members of society. That matters.
Here's what kicks in TODAY and forever (unless GOP leaders succeed in getting "Obamacare" overturned):
--> Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to a child without health insurance because he or she has a pre-existing health condition.
--> Young adults can begin signing up to stay on their parent's insurance until age 26
--> Insurance companies will be required to cover preventive care, including immunizations, at no cost to the family
--> Insurance companies won't be able to drop children when they are sick, or limit the lifetime value of coverage.
--> Families will be able to use a Web site (healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud.gov) or call a toll-free number (1-877-KIDS-NOW) to learn about health coverage options available to them-whether it is a publicly subsidized program like the Children's Health Insurance Program (Healthy Families in California), Medicaid, employer coverage, a state's High Risk Pool, or, after January 1, 2014, the state's health insurance "marketplace" called the Exchange.
Health care (or lack thereof) is an important "family value." Free market fundamentalists who claim that "government has never done anything efficiently" are overlooking the vastly lowered costs and the universalized coverage in places like Canada, the UK and Scandanavia. Sure, those systems are not perfect but they are rated much higher than the US in health care studies and surveys (not very good for the only superpower on the planet for the past two decades).
It is important for us to get the word out and let families know that their medical care may greatly benefit as a result of this recent legislation and it is vital that we hold our political leaders accountable for keeping these benefits in place and building upon them. If they are working to overturn this legislation, we need to ask what, in fact, they will replace it with to insure more Americans and cut costs. When it comes to health care, the status quo is not acceptable.