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PETER BROAD: Affordable Care Act will improve system

on May 21, 2013 10:20 AM

Sunday’s Gazette carried a particularly irresponsible op-ed piece by U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster concerning the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare to its opponents). He uses a lot of numbers and hypotheses to make it sound as if we were headed for disaster. In fact, while the Affordable Care Act falls far short of fixing our nation’s dismal health care system, it does make it a lot better. Let’s just look at some facts (easily findable at the official website).

Shuster says:

• 20 million to 65 million could lose employer-sponsored health care (or maybe not)

• Individual health care premiums to rise 32 percent to 40 percent (threatened, not required or certain)

• Reduces Medicare Advantage; almost half will lose Medicare Advantage (Medicare Advantage plans are private, not government, insurance plans that use Medicare. If the plan drops out of Medicare, you still have your original Medicare insurance, which is now stronger.)

• Cuts Medicare $11,996 per retiree (arriving at this figure requires some very tricky accounting)

• 25 percent of Pennsylvania doctors will stop accepting new Medicare patients (They say they will, maybe, but they would end up losing a lot of income if they did.)

• Program comes between doctor and patient (In fact, the opposite is true; under the Affordable Care Act there are no restrictions on your choice of doctors other than those imposed by your insurance company, and insurance companies will no longer be able to deny payments if you have to use an out-of-system emergency room.)

• Creates higher taxes (Shuster would be hard-pressed to identify these taxes.)

• Puts burden on small businesses — 70 percent say it is an obstacle to new hiring (but, of course, they also say they don’t understand the law, which will give them up to a 50 percent tax break to cover employee health insurance)

What he doesn’t say:

• Can’t be denied insurance because of pre-existing condition

• Children covered until age 26 under parents’ insurance

• Medicare trust fund strengthened

• Reduction in cost of medications

• Tax breaks for small employers for employee health insurance

• No more dollar limits on benefits

Peter G. Broad

Indiana

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