RIP The Affordable Care Act. Maybe.

My friend Bill Goodman wrote this and posted it to his Facebook page. My thoughts about what he wrote follow his comments.

Approximately 50 percent of the students in Alachua County come from households that qualify them for free or reduced lunch services. Most of these students’ parents are employed and work one or more jobs to make ends meet. Reducing or taking away healthcare entirely for these families would take us backwards, rather than forward in our quest to provide quality healthcare to all of our citizens.

As a school counselor and Supervisor of Student Services for the Alachua County Public School System, I lived through the time period when many students did not have access to healthcare except through an emergency room visit. With the support of federal funds Children’s Medical Services came to life in Alachua County, and a few years later we had school nurses on our school campuses to provide health services to all students, but especially to students who were most in need of proper healthcare and medical guidance in their lives.

Students living in families that can afford healthcare do better in school and in life. Prior to these services being made available to students and their families, children were forced to go to emergency rooms to access healthcare. This is a horrible place for a child to have to go to get healthcare. Yes they had access, but because of the time and distance involved to access this most expensive form of healthcare, many students simply did not receive healthcare at all.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and with the federal funding for Children’s Medical Services and school nurses, these children and their parents have had adequate healthcare/medical services in an appropriate healthcare setting. The new healthcare legislation, as it is written, is NOT the improvement that Republicans promised. It would boot many low and middle class income families off the healthcare rolls, and force them back into emergency rooms to receive healthcare services. We live in the WEALTHIEST NATION IN THE WORLD. What is needed is a redistribution of our tax dollars with a higher percentage of those dollars going to healthcare and education. A healthy, well-educated citizenry is what is needed to move our country forward.

Please call or email your Congressman and Senators and ask them to VOTE NO on the new healthcare legislation being proposed by Republicans in Congress. Legislation that can IMPROVE OUR CURRENT HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE. We simply have to put politics aside.

(TK) My thoughts. I’ve sold health insurance policies to individuals, families and small business owners for over 40 years. Before the ACA came into being, the average annual premium, for the same level of benefits, was increasing about 8% to 10% every year. How long do you think it would take to overwhelm all of us if left unchecked? A significant portion of those annual increases resulted from forcing those on the lower end of the economic spectrum to use emergency care facilities for their health care. Much of the rest of it comes from drug companies.

There are 5 principal stakeholders in the American health care system. Individually, none of them has enough leverage to cause a correction and provide a remedy. They are the hospital industry, insurance companies, the medical profession, the drug manufacturers and we the public. Hospitals, drug companies and insurance companies don’t give a damn about better health care. They make more money when health is bad. The medical profession does care, but their focus is to deal with those of us who are already unhealthy and encourage the rest of us stay healthy. That leaves you and I and we can only hope we can afford care when we need it.

Keep in mind we have the most expensive health care system on the planet, and by every metric the health care outcomes are surpassed by dozens of other countries, including longevity, at a lower cost. Nothing in the Republican alternative to the ACA addresses the roots of this fact.

The relevance of the ACA for me was the creation of an overriding structure under which the five stakeholder can adapt and probably survive. But I would have you keep in mind who the politicians are beholden to: drug companies, the hospital industry, and the insurance industry. Unless and until we the public are willing to remove from elected office those who would do us harm, we can expect to pay and pay and pay and watch the unfortunate suffer and die too soon.

Yes, the ACA has flaws, but the premise is sound, both economically, socially and politically. It’s OK to have a difference of opinion but for the life of me, I cannot understand the animus among the Republicans for better health care for all Americans, especially those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Since we don’t allow them to simply suffer and die, why not save money by making sure they are healthy so they can effectively contribute to society and pay taxes? Offering tax credits to those who don’t earn enough to pay taxes is a shameful way to promise a benefit that cannot be used.

If the objective is to make money, a healthy and motivated workforce seems to be in everyone’s best interest.  Unless we as a society are OK with letting people die in the street, you would think we’d elect people committed to finding a way to provide meaningful healthcare for ALL OF US.