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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Go back to the Wild West?

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

Just a year ago, children with pre-existing conditions like leukemia, or even asthma, could be denied health insurance. Seniors struggled to pay for prescription drugs when they reached the “doughnut hole.” And recent college graduates who could not find jobs with benefits were stuck paying an arm and a leg for insurance or even going without coverage because they just couldn’t afford it.

But we are now living in a whole new world thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Already, millions of seniors have received $250 checks to help them afford prescription drugs. Young adults are staying on their parents’ health care plan and those with new insurance plans are receiving preventive care—like mammograms and vaccines—free of charge.

In a recent hearing, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus elaborated on all of the new consumer protections Americans around the country are already enjoying. He said,

This year, insurance companies are barred from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. They can no longer arbitrarily end coverage for those who need it most. 

But that’s not all. He said,

Last year, our health care system was on an unsustainable path. One in six Americans was uninsured. Health care spending accounted for nearly 20 percent of our economy, and costs were rising.

Today, we are moving toward a system that contains costs, a system that modernizes care, and a system that provides affordable coverage options to millions more Americans.

While opponents of health care reform work hard to repeal and defund the law, Americans are already seeing real changes in the health care system that mimicked the Wild West before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act.

If all of the new consumer protections we gain from the law aren’t reason enough to reject repeal, consider this,

Repealing health reform would add nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit in the next ten years and another trillion dollars in the following decade. Our kids and grandkids would be saddled with that heavy burden.

Americans can’t afford to go back to the Wild West, and we certainly can’t afford to pay a quarter of a trillion dollars to do so.