It’s finally here: Obamacare ready to launch
October 1st marks a date many of us have been dreaming about – it’s the moment when consumers will be able to shop for health insurance on the long-awaited exchange made available by the Affordable Care Act. Consumers will be able to compare their health insurance options and select the choice that works best for them and their families. Small business owners will also have options for their employees. Subsidies will be available for those who qualify, bringing our country closer to the goal of affordable, accessible health care for every citizen. After all, no one should face financial ruin because of an illness or accident.
Of course, don’t tell that to Republicans in Congress, who have voted to block the Affordable Care Act no fewer than 40 times, as well as taking steps to sabotage its implementation. Expanding Medicaid, a critical part of covering millions of uninsured patients, has also been thwarted by Republican governors and/or legislatures in 22 states, which means that individuals who might have qualified for Medicaid under an expanded program will now be denied not only Medicaid but their eligibility to qualify for subsidized private insurance through the federal health care exchanges.
Such mean-spiritedness will likely backfire. Unfortunately for Republicans, Obamacare is working, and it’s popular. We already know that the growth in healthcare costs has slowed since Obamacare was adopted. And early analyses of the health insurance exchanges show that the cost of coverage for most consumers will be lower than originally anticipated. While the GOP continues its relentless fear-mongering over the ACA, its individual elements – keeping young adults on their parents’ plan, preventing the denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, etc. – are extremely popular. A large majority (57%) opposes the GOP’s attempts to cut off funding for Obamacare.
Fortunately, California has been at the forefront of making the ACA a reality for its citizens, and those of us in Santa Clara County are smart enough to have elected members of Congress who are committed to accessible health care for all. Reps. Anna Eshoo, Zoe Lofgren, and Mike Honda all have information on their websites for those interested in learning more about Covered California, the health exchange program set up in our state. In fact, Mike Honda recently held a town hall meeting for those in his district who needed answers, an event he has repeated several times over the years. State Senator Jim Beall has two health care forums scheduled for October 5th and October 19th for those who want to learn more.
Affordable health care for all – it’s a dream that’s finally coming true, a dream made possible by Democrats.