Health law repeal a bad idea

The Affordable Care Act represents a major overhaul of U.S. health care and, like any such change, it will have problems.
While there is plenty to criticize in the law, it should be clear that merely repealing it is not the answer. It substitutes a system that may work for a system that is broken.
Morgan County has 21,000 people with no public or private insurance, according to Census results released last week. Limestone County has 9,000 uninsured people. The Census Bureau did not compile the statistics for Lawrence County.
Under the current system, this means that more than 30,000 people in the area have essentially no access to any health care but emergency rooms.
As Decatur residents should understand, this is a disastrous system.
Decatur General Hospital nearly collapsed under the weight of its uninsured patients. Even as it lost money, it shifted costs to other patients and to insurance companies, raising health-care costs for everyone.
Emergency rooms are not designed for preventive care or the treatment of disease. Thus, under the current system, minor ailments go untreated until they are both life-threatening and expensive. This is inefficient for the community and dangerous for those who cannot afford insurance or who choose not to purchase it.
The Affordable Care Act requires everybody who can afford insurance to purchase it, a basic requirement that protects the rest of us from getting stuck with their medical bills. By expanding the pool, the law makes it possible to require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. It also should result in affordable individual policies, a critical step in making people less dependent on employers for their health needs.
As more and more employers eliminate health insurance as a benefit, the significance of affordable individual policies will become more important.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney implemented a good plan in Massachusetts, demonstrating he understands the deficiencies of the health-care system. Instead of parroting ill-advised calls for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, as he did Sunday, we wish he would propose changes that would improve the law while retaining the dramatic advantages it offers to hospitals, employers and citizens.

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1 Comment

Filed under Health care, Obamacare, Romney

One response to “Health law repeal a bad idea

  1. lee mccain

    Eric,
    I have a few comments on this piece. Decatur General did not collapse over indigent care. While treating the uninsured did not help the main impetus for the DGH collapse was the ill advised cardiovascular program. Certainly the administration at Decatur General wanted us all to believe otherwise. All hospitals have to deal with the uninsured to varying degrees. Decatur General simply mismanaged their resources. Another point I would like to make regards your commonly held assertion hospitals shift costs from paying patients to non paying patients. This simply does not happen anymore. Blue Cross pays each hospital a very fixed per diem rate for each admission and procedure. The same goes for Medicaid and Medicare. In the past if you had no insurance you would pay substantially higher rates than that of the major payers but a class action lawsuit solved that problem a number of years ago. Today hospitals and doctors have no recourse and must operate within the confines of their respective contractual obligations. This is why hospitals are merging nationally to change their bargaining power with the government and the insurance companies; and is why Huntsville Hospital is now Alabama’s largest employer.

    Lee

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