Friday, June 29, 2012

Supreme Court upholds majority of Obamacare…and just in time

The Affordable Health Care Act has been recognized by the Supreme Court as being constitutional.  The one factor not upheld was requirements of Medicaid expansion within the states.  The Court basically ruled that this involved too many conditions that seemed unreasonable to demand.  Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the majority but took the position that the mandate requiring all Americans to have health insurance is a tax, contrary to the President.

Demonstrators for Obamacare

And the reason this decision comes “just in time” is a new report by Families USA confirming that 26,000 Americans die prematurely each year because they don’t have health insurance.  That breaks down to 500 per week, 2,175 each month.  For those of us paying dearly for our insurance coverage, and who are tired of supporting those who elect not to have health insurance, Obamacare rectifies this by making it affordable for this group.

The law’s mandate to buy health insurance was confirmed, but because the fine against those who do not comply is administered by the IRS, Roberts deemed it a tax.  Nancy Pelosi, Obama’s staunchest supporter of the legislation said you can call it anything you want to now that the law is upheld.  Republicans say they will work vigorously to repeal Obamacare and this may pass the House but most analysts say it will never get out of the Senate.

If the Supremes had no other reason to uphold the law, the 26,000 annual premature deaths would be reason enough, although this has no legal grounds.  What the figure does establish is the depth of crisis this nation is in when it comes to providing affordable healthcare to all its citizens.  Another staunch supporter of The Affordable Healthcare Act since it passed is Ron Pollack, Executive Director Families USA.  He said:  

"The fact remains that for the millions of Americans without health coverage, only the Affordable Care offers the promise of access to affordable coverage and to a longer and healthier life."

In the 26,000, above, every state is affected, Vermont with the fewest deaths and California with the most.  The numbers for those without health insurance have a broad range from 21 million to 50 million, and the figure being thrown around most recently is 30 million.  Apparently included in this aggregation is 9.7 million who are not citizens.  In addition to these numbers, an additional study reports that another 38 million have inadequate health insurance.    

Other points in the Families USA Report are:

“…in the past 2 years, uninsured women older than 50 were half as likely as insured women to get mammograms.”

“Low-income uninsured adults were 5 times less likely to get screened for colon cancer in the past 5 years compared to insured adults.”

“Cancer patients without insurance are five times more likely to delay or even skip treatment because of the cost.”

“…uninsured adults are more often diagnosed with advanced stage disease and they are 25% more likely to die prematurely than those with private insurance.”

Stage 4 kidney cancer

As an example of the latter, Frederick and Regina Holliday had no health insurance for 16 years while working multiple jobs part time.  They had 2 small children and paid all the medical bills out of their pocket.  They did not go to the doctor until it was, as they described it, “…couldn’t get out of bed sick.”  Another obstacle for affordable coverage was Frederick’s pre-existing condition of a urinary tract stricture.  In 2008, things started to change.

Regina got a job but they could only afford health insurance for her.  Then Fred got a full time job teaching and they had family coverage.  But it was then that Frederick was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer which had metastasized to his stomach, bones and lungs.  Several months later he died at age 39.  His wife remarked:

“I believe that if my husband had consistent health care during his adult life he would still be alive today,”

Enough said?

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