Because I was a huge proponent of the Affordable Care Act when it was being created, you should pay close attention when I tell you that Obamacare is now and will continue to be a dismal failure.
Unless you work for an insurance company or are employed in some aspect of the health care industry, I’m pretty sure you’d agree. The problem is, health insurance, and the health care it’s supposed to provide, are more unaffordable now for average Colorado residents than ever before.
Sure, there are success stories for some. Before the ACA was passed in 2009, millions of Americans were either so poor they couldn’t begin to afford insurance or had gotten seriously sick and couldn’t afford the high-risk rates, or even get a policy. The problem was that these poor Americans weren’t poor enough to get government insurance. They were just screwed. Obamacare put many more people on Medicaid and prohibited insurance companies from bilking and dumping customers who’d gotten sick and really needed the insurance they’d been paying for years before they needed it.
What’d we’d known long before the historic showdown in Congress in December 2009 was that there are endless bad-guys in the U.S. health insurance industry. Greedy drug companies. Greedy insurance companies. Greedy hospital companies. Greedy doctors. Greedy medical supply companies. Greedy malpractice lawyers. Greedy lobbyists. You see the pattern here. Obamacare was our best hope to intervene in the greed and get us something closer to what every other developed nation on the planet has: quality healthcare for just about everyone, that everyone can afford.
Didn’t happen. Not going to — not like this.
Oh, it could have worked just the way President Barack Obama and Democratic proponents hoped it would in 2009, when Republicans were shocked to discover Obama was serious about health care reform, and he had the votes to finally, after decades of skyrocketing health care costs and plummeting health care quality, to do the deed.
The problem then, which is what created the problem for us now, is that Obama didn’t have the votes to do the job right. So he and Democrats bargained away the parts of the ACA that would have made the change affordable. Rather than do the logical thing, which has been proven to work in most other modern nations, and create a universal, single-payer system, lawmakers capitulated to the greed factor and set a place at the ACA table for for-profit health insurance companies, and everyone else. At the last minute, Congress ditched the so-called “public option,” which would have created a non-profit, Medicare like program for anyone and everyone. That would have either taken most for-profit insurance company customers away, or forced insurance companies to lean on providers to lower costs and make health insurance cheaper and more competitive.
Worse, Congress abandoned the idea of regulating rates, prices and lawsuit awards, so that immediately after ACA was passed, the entire health care industry went on a rampant gouging frenzy, sending bloated prices and rates through the roof. This was during the worst recession ever when every part of the economy imploded — except the health care industry.
Since then, no one has been able to fix broken parts of Obamacare because Republicans are holding it hostage in a political stunt that costs you and me billions of dollars a year. The GOP wants to repeal it and replace it with the system that was bankrupting the country before 2009.
And the prognosis for this endless health-care cancer in Congress? Terminal.
So here’s what we can do. A group of Coloradans have collected enough signatures to put Amendment 69 on the ballot next year, creating the single-payer, universal health care system Congress didn’t have the nerve, wisdom nor intelligence to do in 2009. Guess who hates it already? Insurance companies and greedy lawyers.
It works like this: You no longer have to pay Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana or any other insurance company for health care. Colorado pays your health insurance bill. In exchange, your payroll tax goes up about 4 percent, and your employer’s payroll tax goes up about 6 percent. So if you make $50,000 a year, you no longer have to pay the $500-$900 a month to insure your family with crappy insurance that pays for practically nothing anyway, and instead, you pay $125 a month in new taxes. Your employer no longer pays hundreds a month for your crappy insurance and instead pays about $250 a month. Instantly, almost everyone in Colorado is insured, you pick your doctor and hospital, you don’t have to pay tons of extras, and we save billions a year for a system that is not only making us all sick, but it’s killing us.
There are lots of details and questions still, since this is essentially based on payroll taxes. What if you retire early? Would there be a need or a market for secondary insurance? How would this affect Medicaid and other federal programs and subsidies?
But here’s the deal, Colorado. Several international and national studies repeatedly show that we now have the worst and vastly most expensive health care system on the planet, and it’s going in the wrong direction. And even if the corrupt and broken U.S. Congress were to end their partisan tantrum, they would never buck the greedy principles of the healthcare industry and mandate the changes needed to make U.S. health care affordable and reasonable.
Our only hope is to make those changes ourselves, and next year, we will have that chance. This may not be what the doctor, the hospitals, the insurance and drug companies ordered, but it’s absolutely the only cure for what ails us.
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