Make no mistake: Health care had to be reformed because it was broken. Too many Americans - 50 million, according to recent estimates - cannot get or afford insurance.
The health care reform debate has been so freighted with politics, ideology and hype that it's been easy to forget these reforms are about improving the lives of real people. Those who spent years fighting for a better health care system didn't do it for fun or to prove an ideological point; they did it to solve specific problems.
Six months after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, some of those problems began to be solved:
- Effective last Thursday, insurance companies can no longer turn away children based on pre-existing conditions.
- Insurance companies can no longer put lifetime limits on benefits, which have often left people without insurance coverage when they need it the most.
- Medicare recipients caught in the prescription drug "donut hole" are getting $250 checks, the first step toward closing that absurd provision written into Medicare Part D.
- Young adults under 26 (the age group least likely to have insurance) can now be covered on their parents' family plans. Young people aren't as invincible as they think they are, and it's better to get them insured than to have the taxpayers cover their hospitalizations.
- Medicare will now pay for preventive care, such as cancer screening and annual physicals.
No bill is perfect, and some of the problems in the health care system (i.e. cost inflation, over utilization, malpractice liability) will require more legislation.
But make no mistake: Health care had to be reformed because it was broken. Too many Americans - 50 million, according to recent estimates - cannot get or afford insurance. Too many have found their insurance wasn't there when they got sick. Health care and health insurance cost too much and the prices keep going up.
The Republicans’ answer: Repealing health care reform won't solve any of these problems.
But the Affordable Care Act is already working. Democrats should be bragging about this achievement, not running from it.