Normally, resolving problems of this magnitude would need the concentrated effort of all parties, but it did not happen that way. In spite of it, there are undeniable benefits coming from this bill for both the general population and those we serve.
It seems important to summarize the key changes by ACA, to make people aware of them and to dispel the misinformation that is circulating.
Here is a short summary of the changes:
1. Young people can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they are 26 years old
2. All healthcare plans have to cover preventive services.
3. Medicaid eligibility is expanded to 138% of poverty line, except in those States that choose not to participate in this program
4. Tax credits make medical insurance premiums more affordable for low income families
5. Medical coverage for people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied
6. Seniors with Medicare Part D to receive discounts on prescription medications
7. Small businesses and nonprofits can get a tax break for providing healthcare insurance to employees
It is unfortunate that the government did not take into full consideration the request of the Catholic Bishops for exemption from the abortion and contraception mandates. While the Church itself received limited exemption, other Catholic organizations, including the SVdP, did not. Human reproduction is not a disease. As Catholics, we believe that it was wrong to include abortion, contraception, etc. in ACA.
At the same time, we have to be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater. The right to healthcare is a stated Catholic life principle. ACA, while not a perfect bill, is a first step towards that goal in the US. It is long overdue, when you consider that the other industrialized countries started universal healthcare eighty to one hundred years ago.
As we all know, the current implementation of the Healthcare Exchanges has experienced software difficulties. The size, complexity and sophistication of the project required a high level of project management and software development expertise, which seems to have been not readily available in the Department of Health and Human Services, or in the software firms contracted for that work. Hopefully, this will be corrected soon.
On a final point, the ACA repeal that its foes desire, besides denying healthcare coverage to many as discussed above, will also increase the budget deficit, according to the latest (2012) projections available from the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO indicated that the net savings from eliminating the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions that repeal of the ACA would entail.