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Saturday, April 2, 2016

ObamaCare Is Working This National Public Health Week of 2016


I must admit I have never understood the ceaseless clamor from the right about the evil nature of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ObamaCare. After all, tens of millions of uninsured people can now get access to affordable, high-quality health insurance through Medicaid expansion, their employers, and the health insurance marketplace. Even though ObamaCare may have some shortcomings, the legislation is landmark healthcare -- a necessity for so many.

Where changes are needed, ObamaCare can be tweaked and improved in due time just as many initial laws have been modified to meet specific needs. For example, it is unfortunately true that some people who barely miss the Federal Poverty Level limit are hit the hardest as they don’t qualify for assistance.

Nothing is free – we must pay for government programs like the Affordable Care Act that support the common good. So, in order to provide this coverage, taxes that affect Americans directly have to be levied – these are fees required through the individual mandate and the employer mandate.

The average Americans – those making under 400% FLP – have a lot to gain and little to lose under the new law. The average American family is likely to see a reduction in their insurance premiums, and 30 million of the 44 million currently without insurance will gain access to coverage due to expanding coverage via employer mandate, the health insurance marketplaces, Medicare, or Medicaid/CHIP.

The premiums are made affordable by a premium subsidy in the form of a tax credit calculated off income relative to the federal poverty levels (FPL), also known as HHS poverty guidelines.
Those who qualify for the premium subsidy must have a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) at 400% federal poverty levels (FPL) or below. Modified Adjusted Gross Income for ObamaCare is basically gross income minus above-the-line deductions, plus tax-exempt muni bond interest, plus untaxed Social Security benefits. 
The amounts below are 2016 numbers and used for calculating eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). 2015 numbers are used to calculate eligibility for savings on private insurance plans for 2016.
  • $11,880 for individuals
  • $16,020 for a family of 2
  • $20,160 for a family of 3
  • $24,300 for a family of 4
  • $28,440 for a family of 5
  • $32,580 for a family of 6
  • $36,730 for a family of 7
  • $40,890 for a family of 8

Also, ObamaCare offers a number of protections and benefits to all Americans. Beyond the 10 essential health benefits mandated by ObamaCare, there are additional benefits that range from working toward eliminating the penalty for having a pre-existing condition to expanding health services. Overall, the quality of health care is increased, and the cost, in theory, will be reduced.

Still, many people slam ObamaCare on strictly political lines.  

David Dobbs – author of books, features, and reviews for The New York Times, National Geographic, Aeon, and other publications – recently wrote of King v Burwell, a suit financed by the conservative right that “sought to use some trivial inconsistencies in phrasing to gut Obamacare in 37 states and possibly cripple it nationwide.”

In its ruling on King v Burwell, the Supreme Court upheld (6-3) one of the main tenets of the Affordable Care Act that millions of Americans are entitled to keep the tax subsidies that help them afford insurance. The ruling, the second case in which the justices have decided in favor of the Affordable Care Act, preserves benefits for an estimated 6.4 million Americans and deals a crippling blow to the law's Republican opponents, who have attempted to undermine it since its passage in 2010.

After the King v Burwell ruling, President Obama dismissed opponents of the law, reinforcing his expectation that the court’s decision should serve as an end to the political debate over his reforms.

“The point is this is not an abstract thing anymore. This is not a set of political talking points – this is reality,” Obama said, expressing his ongoing commitment to improve access to healthcare. “So we’ve got more work to do. But what we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America.”
Dobbs examined the incessant campaign against ObamaCare, and he found some very disturbing results. He said …
“But that it (the suit) has generated so much coverage underlines something that to my mind gets far too little attention: This suit, and the ferocious, endless attack on ObamaCare is it part of, advances the right’s cause even if the court rules the subsidies are legal. They’re winning a partial and cruel victory even if they win.
“For the uncertainty over this decision — along the certainty that the right will continue to launch other legal challenges if they lose, because much of the right seems to live to kill ObamaCare – is already destroying one of the ACA’s prime benefits, which is to give US citizens a sense of security, stability, and continuity about their access to healthcare.”

(David Dobbs. What we talk about when we talk about killing ObamaCare.” pNeuron Culture. June 12, 2015.)

Dobbs cited Robert Sheen in the ACA Times:

The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid” is a 44-page report that details the medical and economic benefits that would result if all states and the District of Columbia would take advantage of the federally-subsidized expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.”
Currently, 32 states (including DC) have adopted the expansion, and 19 states have not adopted it. Sheen says literally thousands of avoidable deaths occur each year by failing to adopt the expansion.

(Robert Sheen. “Expanding Medicaid could save 5,200 lives.” ACA Times. June 09, 2015.)

Dobbs fearlessly put the issue on the line ...

“The right is playing Russian roulette, only they hold their pistol, which they tirelessly reload when their long-shot loads don’t fire, to the pulsing temples of their own constituents. They are perfectly willing and even eager to issue death sentences to people who work hard and pay taxes and simply cannot, lacking subsidies, afford healthcare in a system whose costs have run shamelessly out of control.”

The problems inherent in ObamaCare must be weighed against the increase in saving American lives. For so long, American have struggled to navigate a health care system that has failed to put patients first. Millions were uninsured and struggling to pay for even a doctor's visit while those who had insurance risked losing it when they needed it most. Access, affordability, and quality have improved with the Affordable Care Act.

Please click here to read about how ObamaCare is working: .

This is National Public Health Week. President Obama has issued this proclamation. It is vital that all Americans understand the necessity for healthcare for all, not just some. Please read the President's own words:

April 01, 2016

Presidential Proclamation: National Public Health Week, 2016

National Public Health Week, 2016
By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

During National Public Health Week, we join together to enhance public health    the foundation of our security and well-being    here at home and around the world.  By supporting health professionals and embracing our obligations to promote public health and protect our planet, we can uphold our shared responsibility to preserve the promise of a happy and healthy life for our children and grandchildren.

Ensuring all Americans have access to quality, affordable health insurance is imperative for maintaining our public health, and I am proud that 6 years after I signed it, the Affordable Care Act has extended the peace of mind that comes with health coverage to 20 million Americans.  First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative is encouraging more physical activity and nutritious food choices for our Nation's youth, engaging parents and kids in the work of building stronger, healthier communities.  

To spare more American families heartbreak, I have proposed over 1 billion dollars in new funding to address prescription opioid abuse and heroin use, a public health issue that has taken a devastating toll on too many.  We are also striving to promote mental health as an essential component of overall health, helping ensure access to mental health care and services and working to prevent suicide.  

And because public safety is a critical component of addressing public health, I announced new, commonsense steps this year to help address our country's epidemic of gun violence and keep our neighborhoods safe.

Just as we must sustain a healthy world today, we must do everything in our power to preserve it for those who will inherit it.  Climate change has a profound impact on our public health, contributing to intensified smog, an extended allergy season, the spread of diseases into new regions, and greater and more acute incidence of asthma.  

Last year, the White House hosted a Summit on Climate Change and Health to expand awareness of the real threat a changing climate poses to our health and to focus on vulnerable groups who may face more serious challenges adapting to climate change.  No community is immune to this reality, nor can any nation cordon itself off from climate or the air we share.  

That is why last year, along with nearly 200 countries from around the world, the United States negotiated the Paris Agreement, the most ambitious climate change agreement in history that commits all participating parties to putting forward climate targets of growing stringency to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. Adopting this agreement for an international framework builds on domestic actions we have already taken to invest in clean energy, reduce our carbon emissions, and transition to a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future.

Like the threat of climate change, other public health challenges like infectious diseases cannot be addressed by any one nation alone. In an increasingly interconnected world, we face new trials that demand international attention. My Administration is working with our international partners to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria.  We also launched the Global Health Security Agenda, which aims to strengthen all countries' public health systems and stop the spread of disease outbreaks by ensuring nations from around the world have the capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to biological threats to our health and safety.  Already, this cooperation is helping us confront the spread of the Zika virus.

America is built on the notion that we are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers, and that we all have certain obligations to one another.  Never is that idea truer than when ensuring the health of the world our children will live in long after we are gone.  This week, let us treat every child as if they are our own by accepting our responsibilities to leave them with a healthier, cleaner planet than we have, and let us continue reaching for a brighter, more secure future for all the world's people.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 4 through April 10, 2016, as National Public Health Week.  I call on all citizens, government agencies, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and other groups to join in activities and take action to improve the health of our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

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