Health care reform is on trial and it promises to be a lengthy one, since the full benefits of the Affordable Care Act don’t even kick in until 2014.
Arguments Challenging Affordable Care Act Scheduled for December
Reuters is reporting today that U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson said he will hear arguments on December 16 on the lawsuit from 20 states attorneys general wanting to block the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit claims that the reform bill violates states’ rights. Judge Vinson will rule on the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss on October 14.
Johanns Amendment Defeated
Also today, Senator Mike Johanns’ (R-NE) amendment to the small business jobs bill was defeated. The amendment aimed to cut down on IRS paperwork, but did so by attacking the Prevention and Public Health Fund. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) is quoted as saying,
“Today the Senate voted to block an attack on the Prevention Trust Fund — an attack that represented the same old penny-wise-pound-foolish thinking that now makes America’s health care system so costly and ineffective. We have systematically neglected wellness and disease prevention in this country — as evidenced by the fact that the United States spends twice as much per capita on health care as European countries, but is twice as sick with chronic disease. This amendment perpetuated the disastrous notion that we can neglect and de-fund prevention efforts without paying a huge long-term cost in unnecessary chronic disease and disability — as well as skyrocketing health insurance premiums. In blocking it, the Senate upheld the old principle that an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.”
Prevention Institute Executive Director Larry Cohen said, “The Johann’s amendment tried to pit small business against the health and vitality of our communities. Our senators showed true courage today, and listened to what public health and prevention proponents are saying across the country: small businesses benefit from prevention — we all benefit from prevention.”
Sebelius to Insurers: “Stop Misinformation and Scare Tactics”
On September 9, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the national association of health insurers, asking them to stop using scare tactics to falsely blame premium increases on the Affordable Care Act. An excerpt from the letter:
“Given the importance of the new protections and the facts about their impact on costs, I ask for your help in stopping misinformation and scare tactics about the Affordable Care Act. Moreover, I want AHIP’s members to be put on notice: the Administration, in partnership with states, will not tolerate unjustified rate hikes in the name of consumer protections… Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.”
A Step Backwards
Certainly those of us who endured annual increases of 30 and 40 percent haven’t already forgotten how dangerous a place the health care insurance market already was. Neither have those who have been forced to go without.
Just a few months into the new law, opponents are declaring it a disaster, going after it piecemeal in order to ensure that disaster. Even some former proponents are sounding grim, although it will be 2014 until all the major components of the law are enacted. It goes too far; it doesn’t go far enough. Indeed, it is not the bill most of us wanted, but it’s what we got. To dismantle it before it even reaches its full stride, with absolutely no alternative plan to fix health care is nothing but a giant step backwards.
Photo used under Creative Commons License via Flickr with thanks to leoncillo sabino