Daniel Tilson: Beware of what would replace Obamacare

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Attention, knee-jerk opponents of Obamacare:

Be careful what you wish for.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the King vs. Burwell case  in March 2015. It pits some sloppy statutory language in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) about who is or isn’t eligible for subsidies, against the obvious intent to offer subsidies to all uninsured Americans in need.

A ruling is expected in June or July. If it ignores intent and considers mistaken wording to be the “letter of the law,” it could derail national health reform as currently constituted.

In the wake of a PR fiasco surrounding ACA architect Jonathan Gruber’s reference to the “stupidity” of American voters, plenty of people might consider that a “victory.”

Now, no disrespect intended, but that really would be stupid…especially in Florida.

Before Obamacare, we were atop the ignominious national “leader” board with something like 4 million uninsured residents.

Thousands of innocent people got sick and died due to lack of insurance and proper care, a humanitarian crisis coupled with an economic one.

Although many anti-Obamacare Floridians with health insurance may not know or believe it, it’s their premiums, deductibles, co-payments and taxes that help cover the sky-high costs of uncompensated Emergency Room Care for the uninsured.

But after Obamacare, Florida leads the nation in insuring the uninsured, with nearly a million ACA sign-ups last year and thousands more in this year’s open enrollment period (ending Feb. 15)…a humanitarian-economic win-win.

Imagine how much pain and suffering that will prevent, how many lives and dollars it will save in the long run.

Yet because Obama’s name got attached to the law, millions of Floridians have been convinced by conservative politicians and pundits to “oppose” it.

The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) stirred up a firestorm over a relatively small minority of people forced by insurance companies to change coverage, and by what they claimed were “skyrocketing” insurance costs.

But the estimable PolitiFact Florida rated that latter claim “Mostly False.”

And the same RPOF voted last year to suspend regulation of health insurance premiums for two years.

Forget Jonathan Gruber’s stupid “stupidity” comments for a minute, and consider what the RPOF thinks of supporters letting them get away with such chicanery.

Now, given the strong chance the Supreme Court deconstructs Obamacare sometime next summer, it’s worth considering what would come in its place.

Judging from multiple “alternative” GOP plans floated during the past year (until they burst under pressure of serious analysis) it wouldn’t be pretty.

It might look something like then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s failed 2008 initiative, Cover Florida.

It might be built around the just-announced A Healthy Florida Works proposal. That’s a new business community plan to insure the uninsured poor without expanding Medicaid. The conservative red meat catch is, you must have a job and be able to pay your own premiums to qualify.

It would likely be marketed through the current failure that is Florida Health Choices, an RPOF “alternative” to the healthcare.gov federal insurance exchange that’s past last year’s rollout problems and working smoothly now.

Mostly, it would be an ugly mish-mash of tax credits, healthcare savings accounts, aptly-named “high-risk” pools, and catastrophic coverage without wellness or preventive care.

And it would punish poor and middle-class Floridians alike.

Beware.

Daniel Tilson has a Boca Raton-based communications firm called Full Cup Media, specializing in online video and written content for non-profits, political candidates and organizations, and small businesses. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Daniel Tilson



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