"Some people in the church are trying to stop Obamacare."
"Really? How is that possible?"
"I don't know, they want me to sign a petition, and if they get enough signatures, they can overturn Governor Jan Brewer."
"Who is arranging this? Did you ask what the petition does?"
"Somebody from the Stake (a large congregation in the Mormon church). I guess they are asking members to sign a petition which they are saying will stop the expansion of Obamacare."
"Ahhh. They are trying to stop the expansion of Medicaid. They want to overturn Governor Brewer's decision to accept federal funds for Medicaid. Go ahead and sign."
"What? I thought you would be upset. You want me to sign?!"
"Sure. If Arizona wants to cut off its nose to spite its face...well...it's not the first time."
Now, after researching the petition my wife politely declined her signature and explained the benefits of expanding Medicaid and the cost savings of lowering the number of uninsured. I am sure her friend was perturbed. I am sure she was surprised that any rational individual would not agree that Obamacare was a destructive force conjured up by a misguided man in order to decay our healthcare system. So to her, the members of the Greenfield-Gilbert Stake, my fellow Arizonans, and any state opting out of Medicaid expansion I write the following:
Rejecting the expansion of Medicaid in Arizona will hurt our residents and negatively impact our budget. In brokering Obamacare, the Federal Government has accepted the increased financial burden by covering 93% of the incremental state costs. We will see significant savings from uninsured liabilities which will offset our obligation to the Medicaid expansion. Even more importantly, we will be covering thousands of our uninsured, whose choice to work negates eligibility for Medicaid. We will create jobs in the healthcare industry and expand access to preventive services (tests for high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, cancer screenings, counseling to help people lose weight, quit smoking or reduce alcohol use, routine vaccinations, flu and pneumonia shots, etc).
Currently across the US, states rejecting Medicaid expansion will lose out on $8.4 billion in federal funding, exclude coverage for 3.6 million uninsured, and see $1 billion more in uncompensated spending. Obamacare will not raise taxes on 95% of Americans and will realize $18 billion a year in savings with less uninsured. Medicaid expansion also requires that doctors receive the same compensation as Medicare patients (currently Medicaid pays less). If all states participate twenty-one million Americans will see their rates decline. Obamacare is also completely paid for; it will not add a single dime to our national deficit.
Now my Arizonan friends, don't naively suggest that our state does not need federal money. Arizona is one of several states that receives more that it pays in taxes. Currently the federal government returns $1.20 for every $1 we pay. In fact, over the past 20 years Arizonans have paid $424 billion in taxes and received $629 billion in Federal benefits. We also took money from Obama's stimulus package when our budgets were in complete disarray saving police, fire, and teacher employment. With as much as our state has been given it appears borderline hypocritical to limit access to healthcare for the working poor needing help. The status quo is unacceptable and though not perfect, Obamacare is a step in the right direction for our great state and nation.
***I do not believe the Mormon Church is organizing opposition to Obamacare, but it is the isolated action of a few misguided members. The Mormon Church handbook is clear that "stake presidents and other local leaders should not organize members to participate in political matters or attempt to influence how they participate...Church leaders and members should also avoid statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, platform, policy, or candidate."
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 frequently criticized the law’s central component -- the individual insurance mandate -- and argued that if Congress was permitted to compel everyone to purchase health insurance, it could also pass other laws that compelled Americans to buy products such as broccoli. In his ruling against ACA, Judge Roger Vinson, a conservative Reagan appointee to the Pensacola, Florida Federal District Court, argued that if ACA were upheld, “Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals… because people who eat healthier tend to… put less of a strain on the health care system.”Read more
The recent mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut reinvigorated the national debate about gun control. While I believe that additional measures must be adopted to make it more difficult for criminals and the mentally ill to obtain firearms, it is equally important that Americans evaluate other areas in our society that may contribute to violent crime.
One major area where we need significant reform is mental health care. Because I am not a mental health professional, I am not qualified to give many specifics about improvements to mental health care; however, the recent mass shootings have clearly demonstrated significant failures in properly identifying and treating mental illness. Rather than just prescribing psychotropic drugs for people who are mentally ill, sending them home and calling it a day, we need to ensure that individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others are promptly committed, even against their will, to secure mental health facilities where they can receive appropriate treatment.
In 2008, President Barack Obama was elected into one of the worst economic disasters since Franklin Roosevelt stepped into the Oval Office. The United States economy was shedding approximately 800,000 jobs per month. Home foreclosures were skyrocketing and the stock market plummeted. From continuing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the Recovery Act, to the emergency bailout of General Motors and Chrysler, policies pursued by the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve put a floor on the recession and returned the economy to sustained growth. The GDP growth rate turned from negative 5.3 percent during the first quarter of 2009 to positive growth by the third quarter. Today, the unemployment rate is lower than it has been at any point during Obama’s term in office led by 31 consecutive months of private sector job growth. The stock market indices more than doubled from their low point, observed just six weeks after Obama took office. Corporate profits of the Fortune 500 reached an all-time high in 2011 and consumer confidence is now higher than it has been at any point since 2007. The housing market is recovering, with home prices, sales, and construction rates rising significantly in 2012. Even though the Obama administration’s handling of the economy has not been flawless, their accomplishments have been impressive given unprecedented partisanship in Washington.Read more
(This post by Laura was originally published on 2.9.2012. In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, we are reposting it today.)
I was at the National Hispanic Medical Society conference in Washington DC when the House agreed to the Senate's amendment of the Affordable Care Act, on March 23, 2010. The energy and excitement was electrifying! My feelings that day are the same today--the Affordable Care Act is monumental and critical for our country. Indeed, it is one of the primary reasons why I support Obama wholeheartedly.
My favorite facts about the Affordable Care Act:
- Expands health care to 32 MILLION Americans
- Insurance companies are prevented from dropping sick people
- Insurance companies cannot deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition
- No lifetime caps on coverage
- Cost: $940bn over 10 years; but it would reduce deficit by $143bn by tackling fraud, abuse, and waste
- Expands women's health preventative coverage, including services such as well-woman visits, mammograms, domestic violence screening, screening for STIs, and access to birth control without charge
Of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama said "A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.'"
One of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act is this concept of the "individual mandate" or requiring people to have insurance. The individual mandate is really important because it reduces the overall costs of health care for everyone. But don't take my word for it. Heck, (not h-e-ll, we are mormons after all) don't take Barack Obama's word for it!
"If you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care."
Mitt Romney, defending the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform in a debate with Rick Santorum, Jacksonville, Florida, 1/26/12
YES! More cowbell. At a time when partisan politics have harshly criticized the 2010 US health care reform, I long to hear Mitt Romney defend the Massachusetts Health Reform! I believe there are far more important reasons for health reform (like, uhh, helping people), but it is soooo refreshing to hear it defended in 'Republican speak'.
I'm not the only one who feels good about this. Of Romney's words, Prof. John McDonough from Harvard School of Public Health said, "Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate."
A recent study reports that Taxachusetts (as my in-laws so lovingly call it) is doing very well after the 2006 health initiative. Access to health care remains high, emergency room visits are down, and there has been some improvements in health outcomes.
"I gotta fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
President Barack Obama, you gained my (second) vote on March 23, 2010. And I personally thank you for on behalf of all 32 million Americans who will now have access to health care!
Post by Doctor LauraClubFancy, your health care correspondent-
President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not directed at the poorest Americans, who already have Medicaid, but at the working poor. This includes those who work full-time, but cannot afford their own health insurance policy. In addition, low-wage jobs are far less likely to provide health insurance benefits. Thus, typical low-wage earners are left on their own to purchase prohibitively expensive private health care plans. In 2010, the average cost for a private family insurance plan was $7,102. In many locales throughout the U.S., it is mathematically impossible for a low-wage breadwinner to pay for a $7K private insurance plan while paying for all other essential family expenses. What’s worse, before ACA, if one became seriously ill and required extensive treatment and thus could not work for a long period, they would often lose their job, and with it, their health insurance. Some conservatives counter-argue that only those who work hard deserve health insurance and good health care. But this argument is a non-sequitur. Health insurance is generally unaffordable for the working poor and even parts of the working middle class, who as I pointed out in one of my last posts, work more hours on average than the wealthy.Read more
Positive rights should not just be viewed through the lens of entitlement. Positive rights are similar to public goods in that they provide positive benefits to society as a whole (in economics, this phenomenon is called a positive externality). This is especially true with health care. If everyone has access to good health care, the chance of serious epidemic outbreaks declines. More people are thus eligible to work. American productivity increases because workers require fewer sick days. Healthier people spend more money on other things aside from health care, stimulating the economy. (For good explanations on health care as a public good, click here and here.)Read more
In January 2009, Mitt Romney penned some advice to incoming President Barack Obama regarding health care reform in a USA Today op-ed piece. Romney suggested Obama look to “the lessons we learned in Massachusetts,” in contemplating federal-level reform, noting specifically:
First, we established incentives for those who were uninsured to buy insurance. Using tax penalties, as we did, or tax credits, as others have proposed, encourages ‘free riders’ to take responsibility for themselves rather than pass their medical costs on to others. The Massachusetts reform aimed at getting virtually all our citizens insured. In that, it worked: 98 percent of our citizens are insured, 440,000 previously uninsured are covered and almost half of those purchased insurance on their own, with no subsidy.
In a January 2008 GOP Presidential Primary debate, Romney underscored his belief that the insurance mandate should be applied at a national level. When the moderator noted, “Romney’s system has mandates in Massachusetts, although you backed away from mandates on a national basis,” Romney interjected, “No, no, I like mandates. The mandates work.” I previously posted a video clip, which showed Romney giving his support to the notion of applying ‘Romneycare’ at a national level.Read more
Have you ever come across someone who vehemently supports the criminalization of most or all forms of abortion? Chances are that person opposed with equal fervor President Obama's health care reform bill and most, if not all forms of public assistance to those in need. It is also quite likely that that person supported the Iraq War, which we waged on a nation that had never attacked us and was not a significant threat to us. That person probably also whole-heartedly embraces the death penalty the way it is applied today in our criminal justice system. I find it incredibly disturbing when so many conservatives claim that they value the sanctity of life, yet show no concern for the living.Read more
How can the GOP claim that it seeks to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act if the GOP frontrunner, Mitt Romney, is the architect of a plan that is almost identical to the one Obama signed into law? This is compounded by Romney's quote in the video below where he acknowledges applying a similar program at a national level would be a good idea. How can Republicans claim that economic stimulus act destroyed our economy and aggravated the recession when the GOP frontrunner supported the notion of economic stimulus in the form of government spending in 2008 at the height of the recession? Any Republican who supports a politician like Romney but attacks Obama for these signature pieces of legislation is guilty of immense intellectual honesty.