Saturday, July 7, 2012

It’s time to be honest about what the law does and does not do.

Governor Mead could do the citizens of the state a genuine service by moving ahead with the creation of a health exchange under the Affordable Care Act. The first duty of an exchange should be to tell Wyoming people the truth about what the act does and does not do. After a less-than-honest debate, people are confused. It’s time to be honest about what the law does and does not do.

A poll taken after the Supreme Court ruling says that while half the country thinks it’s a bad law, 56% think it’s time to quit bickering and get on with implementing the law. Even better news for Wyoming is that Matt Mead agrees.

Governor Mead earned his spurs opposing the Affordable Care Act. So when he says it’s now time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, the legislature should listen. Three other Republican governors, known for their anti-Obamacare rhetoric, looked into their crystal balls and decided that while there was a season to be partisan, there was also a season to recognize the opportunities. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Scott Walker of Wisconsin moved ahead of the pack to build heath exchanges in their state.

Unlike them, our state wasted precious months in a quixotic hope that the healthcare law would go away. The clock has been ticking. Important deadlines loom. It’s time to consider the opportunities the law has for improving healthcare for the people of Wyoming and give them a place to go for the truth about the law.

As Mitt Romney’s war to repeal the law continues, the truth will be a casualty as it has been from the beginning. Some of the talk from both sides has distorted the truth. But, let’s be honest among ourselves. Many of those who opposed the law have tortured the truth to death. Beginning before Sarah Palin’s lies about “death panels,” the debate has been characterized by outright falsehoods. Opponents have frightened small business people, saying they will face huge new costs and many will go out of business. Untrue. 

They have called it socialism and a government take-over of healthcare. Untrue. For those of us who believe there should be a single-payer system, this charge is unfathomable.They call it a middle class tax increase when, in fact, Obamacare includes the largest middle-class tax cut for health care in history. According to the independent Congressional Budget Office, 19 million people will receive tax credits averaging $4,800, making insurance affordable for the first time.

Intentionally imaginary is their claim that bureaucrats and not patients or doctors will make healthcare decisions. The truth? Obamacare gives you and your doctor the authority to make decisions now made by insurance companies. Before the law, insurance companies arbitrarily capped or cancelled coverage. They wasted our premiums on overhead and outrageous bonuses for CEOs. With Obamacare, all that changes. Patients and doctors, not Washington bureaucrats and insurance executives, now have more control over health care.  

They’ve said millions will be forced to give up current health insurance. Untrue. If you like the insurance you have, keep it, knowing that under Obamacare, your coverage is stronger. Lifetime limits imposed unilaterally by your insurance company are eliminated; children under 26, can stay on your plan; insurance companies can no longer discriminate against children with pre-existing conditions and starting in 2014, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny anyone insurance based on pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies will no longer be able to charge women more than men, 54 million Americans already have access to better preventive services, free of charge; and if you get sick, your insurance company can’t drop you.

The reason half the country tells pollsters they want the act repealed is they have not been told the truth. So, where can Wyoming people go to learn the truth? Here’s hoping the health exchange the Governor and the legislature establish will have the credibility to be just that place.

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