Will Health Care Be Part of Obama’s Legacy?

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He’s happy with the coverage he and his wife have bought; they’re saving $300 a month on premiums compared with the last time they had insurance. But he said he had to endure weeks of website run-arounds.

“There is a lot of bureaucracy involved,” said Luke. “It’s sort of like taxes, filled with loopholes and pitfalls. They should make it easier for people to get insurance and pay for insurance, rather than have to prove so many things and jump through so many hoops.”

Those comments echo sentiments broadly reflected in national opinion polls. Most Americans want lawmakers to fix the problems with the health care law, rather than scrapping it. A new AP-Gfk poll finds that only 13 percent expect the law will be completely repealed. Seventy-two percent say it will be implemented with changes, whether major or minor.

Republicans have again made repeal of “Obamacare” their official battle cry this election season. But even if the GOP wins control of the Senate and Congress were to repeal the law next year, the president would veto it. Opponents would then need a difficult two-thirds majority in both chambers to override Obama’s veto.

“It’s going to depend on the next couple of elections whether we stick with the current ACA models,” said Brookings Institution health policy expert Mark McClellan, who oversaw the rollout of the last major federal coverage expansion, the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

“We are still a long way from a stable market and from completing implementation,” he said. But “we’re not going back to people with pre-existing conditions having no good options.”

The administration will have to get to work quickly on a plan for next year. It is still struggling with such basics as providing consumers with clear information about the process and their options.

Until now, those signing up have skewed toward an older crowd. That could lead to higher premiums next year, making the program a harder sell for younger people.

Some Democratic lawmakers who voted for the law are frustrated.

“Instead of just circling the wagons against all the political arrows that are shot against this plan, we need a little more accountability, and we need to ensure the next enrollment period is not handled as poorly as the last one,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

DeAnn Friedholm, health reform team leader for Consumers Union, said her group still supports Obama’s overhaul, but with concerns.

“The jury is out in terms of its long-term success,” she said. “We still think it’s better than the old way, which left a lot of people out because they were sick.”
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