Easy to pick apart
The following response was sent to Longboat Key News in response to a recent column by Tom Burgum.
First, with regard to your “I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you comply” column (July 7, 2012), the Affordable Care Act is “more popularly known as Obamacare” principally by the loyal opposition whose goal it is to defeat President Obama — in the November election and, it would appear, every minute of every day from Jan. 20, 2009, right up to that election.
By a delightfully strange quirk of both fate and politics, though, the Affordable Care Act actually appeared in its gestational form as “Romneycare” in Massachusetts, as you know — complete with the failure-to-purchase-insurance penalty (oops, tax). It should be interesting (perhaps too strong a word for this particular presidential election) to see how the candidates attempt to distinguish one man’s plan from the other’s as November draws closer and closer.
As for putting one’s “liver under the jurisdiction of Heath Commissar Sebelius’ Office of Compliance and Bureaucratic Sclerosis,” many of us might see that as not much different from, or perhaps even preferable to, putting our organs under the jurisdiction of profit-making health insurance companies whose mission often appears to be a balancing act between approving just the perfect amount of health care to keep us alive and denying us just enough to keep them in mahogany-paneled offices, junkets to Las Vegas for health care “conferences” and back-dated stock options.
My point really is that health care coverage in this country is incredibly broken. A good friend and former colleague (senior actuary with one of the world’s top actuarial firms) refers to health care in this country not as a system at all, but as health care chaos. Our employer-based approach was begun as a way to substitute less costly (for the employer) health care benefits for more costly wage increases. Now that providing these benefits has become uncomfortably expensive, most employers have reduced health benefits considerably over the past several years, with a recent Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health survey reporting that only “23 percent of companies are very confident that they will continue to offer health care benefits for the next 10 years, down from a peak of 73 percent in 2007.”
So, reduced or discontinued health care coverage for those who are employed, no anticipated big wage increases to help them buy coverage on their own, and growing numbers of unemployed and/or part-time employees with no benefits at all. There just might be a need here to address this situation. It’s easy to pick apart the first attempt at such a vast undertaking, and to brand as onerous the various means selected to pay for it — but such means do need to exist in one form or another.
And as for railing against a “government incapable of managing even one hospital and the national cemetery,” I might point out that it does a damned good job of administering social security and health care benefits for people over 65, to which many friends with reliable monthly checks and affordable new knees and hips can attest. Ahem. Yours in continued delight of the political back-and-forth,