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Letter to Editor - Response to Jottings on healthcare



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October 31, 2012 - Regarding Jim's Jottings (4-11-12): I ask you, Jim, who first began referring disdainfully to health care reform as "Obamacare?" The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law in March 2010, and although it is far from perfect legislation, it will cover 32 million currently uninsured Americans by 2014, require insurance companies to spend more premium dollars on actual health care, and more.

According to a pamphlet I picked up at a Catholic Caucus for SE Michigan meeting in January, published by Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network and Michigan Legal Services, the three legs of the ACA are as follows: 1) Guaranteed Issue: prohibits discrimination against people with preexisting conditions or who are sick; 2) Mandate: requires more people to buy affordable insurance or pay a tax, unless the insurance policy premium would cost more than 8% of their annual income; 3) Affordability: makes insurance more affordable by providing sliding scale subsidies.

Should the Supreme Court strike down the individual mandate leg of the three-legged stool, the stool will fall. I understand people's concern with the constitutionality of such a mandate. Far better that Congress had considered a single-payer, universal health care system like most other industrialized democracies in the world, but President Obama knew it would have been DOA in Congress so never proposed it.

Under the ACA, children cannot be denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition; this will be extended to adults in 2014. The ACA establishes subsidies and tax credits to help individuals (low- and middle-income) and businesses afford coverage. If you're already covered under your employer's plan, nothing changes for you. The ACA focuses on preventive health, and many services like physicals and immunizations will be free. Different levels of coverage will be sold on Michigan-run health insurance exchanges.

Health insurance premiums have been increasing by double digits for years, which has been a burden on employers and employees alike, who have been asked to pay more toward their premiums and deductibles. The ACA should help bring these costs down, and in the event that an individual finds herself unemployed and uninsured, she should be able to find affordable, subsidized coverage for her family. For those individuals who currently foot the bill for their own insurance, your rates should decrease, especially if you qualify for subsidies based on your income.

-Amy Marcaccio Keyzer

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