It is not surprising that so many Georgians are confused about the reforms of the Affordable Care Act.
It seems almost daily that you have a Republican candidate or elected official making inaccurate statements or using various stories to fit their narrative of what’s wrong with the law. As a Rotarian, we repeat a Four-Way Test that asks, in part, “Of the things we think, say, or do, is it the truth?” I would submit to you that most of the Republican elected officials and candidates for office cannot answer in the affirmative to that question as it relates to the scare tactics being used to derail the Affordable Care Act.
At the ACA’s core is the individual mandate that all able-bodied individuals purchase health insurance. This is consistent with individuals taking personal responsibility for their lives and actions. This idea originated with the conservative Heritage Foundation in 1994 and was adopted by the Republican Party as its position on health-insurance reform up until it was made a part of the reforms of the Affordable Care Act in 2009. Republicans abandoned this position simply because it was adopted by Democrats as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Georgia is one of only 16 states that does not have a high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions. This means people who have a chronic illness or have survived a life-threatening disease, such as cancer, have not been able to purchase insurance on the individual market at all. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, that discrimination comes to an end.
It’s not a secret that the roll out of the Affordable Care Act did not go smoothly. Healthcare.gov almost was useless up until the beginning of December. Additionally, unintended consequences resulted when providers canceled some people’s health-insurance policies. The website is working well now, and individuals can and should take a look for themselves.
Getcoveredamerica.org is another helpful resource. Or talk with one of the organizations in Georgia that received a federal enrollment grant: Cognosante, Georgia Association for Primary Health Care, and the University of Georgia’s Office of Extension and Outreach.
The Affordable Care Act is not a perfect law and was never meant to be a panacea to the woes of our health care system. Republicans argue that this is an expansion of government. I find that a false notion, as we already are paying for the care, be it through higher taxes or higher premiums, and the care provided is at the most expensive and inconvenient point of care – the emergency room. Those costs are hidden within our health care system.
When people have health insurance and access to primary-care doctors, health outcomes improve, worker productivity heightens, and costs begin to stabilize. It’s because of the start of these reforms that the rate of inflation for health-care costs is at its lowest level in 50 years.
There is still work to be done on this issue, but for that to occur, Republicans must come to the table with constructive and realistic ideas and solutions beyond a full repeal of the bill. To further insist upon that outcome is to deny reality and an insult to the many citizens, like me, who want their government to function for the betterment of all concerned in an efficient manner.
Murphy is a former Republican political operative and a cancer survivor from Savannah. He is a realtor and has become an advocate of the reforms included in the Affordable Care Act.