The proof is in the pudding, and the glass is half full.
The verdict’s in: The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) is working quite well, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Center.
We should all be happy 8 million of our fellow Americans have enrolled in health-insurance plans. Here in Minnesota, 180,500 people signed up during the enrollment period from Sept. 30, 2013 and May 1, 2014. That’s a remarkable 40.6 percent drop in the numbers of uninsured, a number that fell from 445,000 to 264,500. And those numbers are sure to improve during the next enrollment period for 2015.
Granted, the lion’s share is due to increases in enrollment into state and federally subsidized health programs – namely Medical Assistance (Medicaid) and MinnesotaCare. But so what? How can we expect working people at or below the poverty line to afford health-care plans that aren’t – partly at least – subsidized? It goes without saying that in a society riddled by income inequalities, so many individuals and families would just have to do without health care, get sick and die – if it weren’t for subsidies.
Perhaps, if wages increase substantially, more people now subsidized will be able to afford plans without the need for any subsidies – or at least less subsidies.
In the meantime, there is good news popping up here, there and everywhere ObamaCare is causing good changes. In May, executives from the health-care industry testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the ACA has not – as opponents had claimed – led to a “government takeover” of the health industry, that most who signed up are paying their monthly premiums and that premiums will not skyrocket next year, as ACA detractors argued.
Data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show the ACA has a direct bearing on major increases in patient safety, preventing almost 15,000 deaths and saving 560,00 patients from further health dangers, all while toting up $4.1 billion in cost savings. Those outcomes were made possible largely because the ACA improves health-care delivery systems by working with public and private partners and by changing the way hospitals are paid.
According to HHS data, from 2010 (when the partnerships began) until 2012, there was a 51-percent decline in ventilator-associated pneumonia in hospitals; a 65-percent drop in early elective deliveries (often the cause of health problems in newborns); a 16-percent drop in the rate of obstetric trauma; a 25-percent decline in cases of pressure ulcers; and a 13-percent decline in cases of venous thromboembolic complications (which has been responsible for the deaths of about 300,000 people a year, with two-thirds of them contracting the cardiovascular illness in hospital stays).
Under the ACA, hospitals get paid based on “best practices,” one of which is reimbursing them more for Medicare if they have fewer re-admissions. The ACA also made possible the formation of Partnership for Patients in 2011, a coalition of the HHS, hospitals, employers, health plans, doctors, nurses, state governments and others. That coalition is helping reduce preventable hospital-acquired sicknesses and subsequent re-admissions, saving lives and saving money for patients and taxpayers. Those kinds of behind-the-scenes ObamaCare successes almost never make the news.
There’s more news – good news: “junk” insurance plans have been exposed for what they are, people cannot be denied insurance because of pre-existing conditions, children can stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26, women cannot be discriminated against by having to pay higher premiums, and there are now all kinds of free or low-cost preventive check-ups, thanks to the ACA.
All those successes do not mean ObamaCare will not have glitches, setbacks, bureaucratic tangles, financial constraints and other problems. However, what program doesn’t have a constant need for adjustments? It’s bound to be an ongoing process, with fixes here and there as needed.
The successes of ACA cannot be denied. But, of course, those successes, ironically but not surprisingly, have become the very targets of those who have hated the law from the get-go, from those who have voted more than 50 times in the U.S. House to repeal it. These opponents – the loudest of them – are people who despise any sort of social contract among their fellow Americans, who decry any sharing of costs through subsidies and who think more tax-cuts for the very rich and corporations will benefit working people through the ol’ rabbit-in-the-hat “trickle-down” theory.
ObamaCare is working; TrickleDown is not.