Friday, March 23, marked the two-year anniversary of the enactment of President Obama’s health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, and on Monday, March 26, the Act went on trial.
The history of ObamaCare, in a nutshell:
Twelve years ago, Republican legislators supported and even hailed the idea of mandating all Americans purchase their health insurance from a private company. In fact, Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney designed and passed the first version of this plan in his state.
So, as a compromise toward reform, while authoring the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President Obama modeled his version after Romney’s plan but added a public option for patients to also choose a very low-cost, affordable federal healthcare plan, similar to Medicare.
But Republicans in Congress now refused to pass Obama’s version before the public option was first stripped from the plan. When eventually, he did, the plan passed.
Although the exclusion of public option was a huge disappointment to many Democrats (they felt he caved), the plan still was hailed as the closest step toward reform the country has seen yet, with other new provisions including no lifetime cap on insurance coverage, new laws against charging women more for their specialized care, the option for young people to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26, lower prescription drug costs for the elderly and no cost penalties for several pre-existing conditions, such as an ear infection.
However, for Republicans, the mandate they once supported suddenly became a “government takeover of healthcare,” because of its requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance, whether they want to or not or pay a penalty unless exempted for religious beliefs or financial hardship.
Additionally, Republicans point out, the initial cost of Obama’s plan was estimated at $940 billion over 10 years. But most recently, the Congressional Budget Office issued a correction of its initial estimate, saying the measure will cost taxpayers at least $1.76 trillion over a decade. Democrats say this is a gross disstortion, as it does not at all account for the overall savings.
Beginning Monday, 26 states challenged the constitutionality of ObamaCare before the U.S. Supreme Court. Arguments wrapped up on Wednesday, and the public should hear a final decision by summer.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg compared the case to a salvage operation, versus a wrecking operation.
Ginsburg noted several provisions in the ObamaCare law that have a modest relationship to the controversial individual mandate but could work just fine without forcing Americans into a healthcare plan.
What do you think? Is ObamaCare a good first step in the right direction, or is do you find both the mandate and the escalating cost too high of a price to pay?
Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.