|Resounding victory for healthcare|
|Friday, 06 July 2012 12:23|
Friday, June 28 marked a momentous day when Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by former President George W. Bush, agreed with four liberal justices of the Supreme Court to affirm the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a law which will provide affordable healthcare to millions of uninsured Americans.
The Court's redefining of the mandate as a tax however, will continue to fuel the bi-partisan tension surround the healthcare law. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made the law a major political issue, calling the ACA "Obama's mandatory tax on Americans" and has pledged to repeal it if elected. Already congressional Republicans have vowed to vote to repeal aspects of the law, citing concerns that the additional government expense of providing medical services to millions more Americans will burden small businesses and increase the overall cost of healthcare.
However, for millions of African and Caribbean Americans – from low income to middle class – the ACA will provide the healthcare they need. No longer will families have to delay seeking healthcare in order to pay their rent or buy food. No longer will millions have to endure long hours in the nation's hospital emergency rooms to see a doctor because they cannot afford private healthcare.
Meanwhile, one in five Floridians have no health insurance, which is the third highest rate in the U.S. Under the ACA, the uninsured will be able to shop through special exchanges for affordable insurance coverage. Low income residents who cannot afford the lowest rates will also qualify for health benefits under an expanded Medicaid program, (only if Florida officials opt into the program, which may be unlikely due to Governor Rick Scott's opposition to the expansion of Medicaid coverage in the state).
Thousands of Medicare recipients will also receive expansion for prescription drugs, while thousands of young people under 26 will remain covered by their parents' health insurance. The law also takes a preventative stance on healthcare by providing vital preventative medical tests for free. Most significantly, people who were previously denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions will qualify for coverage.
With such potential benefits, it is astounding why so many Americans, almost half the population according to various polls, oppose a law that provides one of the basic needs of the nation's citizens.
Some critics claim the government's individual mandate may force people to buy insurance they may not need, under risk of monetary penalty. But America also cannot afford to provide healthcare free of cost through emergency rooms to those who can afford it otherwise. This mandate ensures millions of people will discontinue using emergency rooms as their main healthcare option, which escalates hospitals' operating costs and the nation's overall healthcare expenses. In addition, millions of employed Americans are already required to pay for healthcare through monthly Medicare deductions, and Medicare recipients are mandated to pay a monthly fee for healthcare benefits.
Despite the law's benefits, the debate surrounding the ACA will continue through to Election Day on November 6. Regardless of the result, perhaps by then the true core of the issue, encouraging and preserving the good health of America, will dominate the conversation instead of political banter.