EDITORIAL-Health Care Relief is Ours
At long last, relief is here; let us be glad
How many of you earn that amount in a year?
Not I, says the teacher. Nor I, says the letter carrier. Nor I, says the clerk at the corner store. Certainly not I, says the senior citizen living on Social Security.
$88,200. That’s 1,700 bucks a week in your paycheck. If yours is a family of four, and you make less than that, some relief is here, at last.
It comes in the form of the sweeping health care reform signed into law this week by our president.
It is the biggest and best legislation to help America’s middle class since the introduction of Medicare in 1965. If you and your family are members of the middle class or the working poor, you should be celebrating this amazing piece of legislation. It makes life better for you, for your children, for your grandparents- and for the future of this country.
Now that the opponent’s distortions and untruths have been defeated, it is a time for individual Americans to consider what this new law will do, and just how they will benefit from it. Here are a few of the plusses to begin this year:
• An immediate reduction in the cost of health care for families and small businesses.
• Adults uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable insurance through a temporary high-risk pool.
• Senior Medicare recipients will receive a $250 rebate to help cover any gap in prescription drug coverage; next year, the law institutes a 50 percent discount on prescription drugs in the donut hole.
• New private health insurance plans will be required to provide free preventive care, with no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive services. And next January, Medicare will do the same.
• Children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage; that heinous insurance company practice is now against the law. Now no insurance company can deny coverage to a child based on his or her health.
• Young people may remain on their parents' insurance policy until their 26th birthday.
• Insurance companies cannot drop people from coverage when they get sick, and they may no longer impose lifetime caps on coverage; restrictive annual limits on coverage also will be banned
Among other positive benefits: funding for community health centers will double over the next five years; the number of primary care providers – doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants – will increase; and discrimination based on salary is now outlawed.
The Republican attacks are based on political distortions, even outright lies. Much of the “Party of No” rhetoric begins with the falsehood that they speak “ for the American People.”
But wait: In the election just 16 months ago between McCain/Palin and Obama/Biden, each campaign stated what their policies would be if elected. The American people voted 53% to 46% to elect President Obama. In fact, almost 70 million chose him, while less than 60 million voted for McCain.
So pay no attention to the overheated rhetoric from John McCain’s Republicans. They had the controls of the country for eight years, and they are embittered by their loss of power.
To his credit, during the campaign Barack Obama told the country the details of his political agenda, and pledged to deliver health care reform. When they voted, the American people said yes, that’s what they wanted.
Barack Obama delivered on his promise this week, and the country is all the better for it.
– Ed Forry