ObamaCare was Unnecessary
It's worth remembering that ObamaCare's original objective was to provide affordable healthcare insurance coverage for everyone. Yet even before key provisions of the law go into effect on January 1, that goal is already an afterthought. Many people have received cancellation notices on their existing insurance policies. The healthcare exchanges are a disaster. Premiums are increasing, not decreasing. As the law's rapidly dwindliing supporters continue stretching the boundaries of reason in a desperate attempt to continue justifying the law, the evidence is already conclusive. ObamaCare is a colossal failure. The law has accomplished nothing more than to add layers of penalties, fines, taxes, fees, and burdensome reporting requirements for those who don't comply with the law. Repealing ObamaCare is the only viable solution that will eliminate the law's punitive costs and prevent further destabilization of existing healthcare coverage. Once the law is repealed, the recovery process can begin by restoring existing federal laws that already provided expansive healthcare protections.
Federal regulatory authority over health insurance was well established prior to the passage of ObamaCare. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 ("COBRA") requires employers to offer continuation coverage to employees who leave their job. In addition, The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ("HIPAA") provides protections against pre-existing condition exclusions and healthcare privacy issues. Obamacare, in part, amended existing federal law, most notably the Public Health Services Act, which was created by HIPAA.
COBRA guarantees employees who are enrolled in an employer healthcare plan the opportunity to extend their healthcare coverage for an additional period of time if they leave their job under certain conditions. To maintain coverage, individuals must pay the combined employer and employee premium cost, plus a 2% administrative fee. Many don't take advantage of the COBRA benefit because they can't afford the additional monthly out-of-pocket expense, which often amounts to hundreds of dollars.
HIPAA provides protections against pre-existing condition exclusions and discrimination against plan participants based on their health status. The law also gives states the authority to establish and administer special enrollment programs to HIPAA-eligible individuals, including people who have exhausted their COBRA benefit. But because many don't use the COBRA benefit, they are ineligible to apply for HIPAA programs. In addition, HIPAA-eligible applicants risk disqualification because of a technicality if they do not strictly adhere to the complex and confusing federal and state-specific restrictions, requirements, and deadlines when applying to the programs. Repairing the application process by standardizing enrollment forms and streamlining federal and state eligibility restrictions and requirements will reduce the risk of disqualification and result inexpanded access to healthcare coverage for many uninsured HIPAA-eligible individuals.
The Health Coverage Tax Credit ("HCTC") is a federal program that helps qualified individuals pay for their healthcare premium. The HCTC was created as part of the Trade Act of 2002, and the Recovery Act of 2009 increased the program's benefit to its current 80% level and expanded eligibility. Individuals enrolled in COBRA and state-qualified programs, the two most common health plans that qualify for HCTC assistance, can receive financial assistance to help pay the cost of their premiums if they qualify. The program currently is set to expire at the end of this year -- restoring the program and expanding eligibility will help people maintain their healthcare insurance and remain insured.
ObamaCare was unnecessary. The law has not lived up to its promise of affordable healthcare coverage for everyone. Rather than repair existing federal laws that would improve access to affordable healthcare for many, President Obama and Congressional Democrats instead passed a law that consolidates federal power and creates new government-controlled healthcare entities designed to financially burden the middle class in order to pay for the previously uninsured.
Obama's stopgap delays and bandaids have not fixed the law's terminal problems. Repeal is the first step towards erasing all of the law's punitive penalties, fines, taxes, and fees and mending what has already been damaged and broken. Recovery begins by restoring and repairing existing federal law and reviving federal programs that help individuals and families stay insured.
Constance Jacobs is a freelance writer and blogger living in Oakland, California.