COMMUNITY VOICES: Making sense of the Affordable Care Act
Jack Foley|Herald News
Joseph Marshall is an investment adviser and president of J. Marshall Associates, Fall River. Community Voices is a weekly column featuring experts and specialists from the community.
First, let’s try to take the “politics” out of the equation even though Republicans have tried to repeal The Affordable Health Care Act 31 times. Whether you liked someone or voted for someone and they didn’t do “exactly” as you expected has nothing to do with today and tomorrow.
The Affordable Health Care Act is a statute passed by the U.S. Congress on March 21, 2010 and signed into law two days later by President Barack Obama. The actual legislation itself had just over 2,400 pages and that doesn’t count the pages of regulations.
The main goal of “The Act” is to help decrease the number of Americans who do not have health insurance, as well as help reduce the overall cost of healthcare.
Oct. 1 is the date when Americans can expect Health Insurance Exchanges to open to businesses and individuals trying to buy insurance through them.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia are setting up state-based exchanges. The federal government will manage the exchanges or divide the responsibilities with the states in the other 33.
In several states, elected officials are involved with the health exchanges that they created. They must commit to setting up computers and phone banks, and training personal assisters.
The process can work, as it did in Massachusetts when it implemented a law much like the Affordable Care Act. A Republican governor and a Democratic Legislature, working with business and labor, showed that close-to-universal health insurance coverage is possible. Sure, there were problems, but nothing more than exploiting short term problems and blaming each other. Groups fixed what needed fixing and made the program work.
I anticipate that in many states, the roll-out of “The Act” is going to have confusion, error, and legitimate complaining. Errors and complaints are always going to happen when millions of people flood a new agency staffed with new computers and new staff that may not be adequately trained.
The spirits in which the problems are satisfied are critical. With good will, various stakeholders will pitch in, pinpoint problems, and with time and patience, fix them. That is what happened here in Massachusetts, you should keep in mind that when millions of people are applying for coverage, thousands of mistakes will be made. How those mistakes are handled help to define the success of the plan.
Instead of having to know as much about “Obamacare” as you can and complaining about many of the provisions that don’t apply to you, just look at those provisions that do affect you. Ask questions. Have patience. Listen to those who can help you.