On one Friday earlier this month, more than 11,000 Muslims in mosques across the country heard a sermon about the Affordable Care Act.
Hindu and National Baptist groups, meanwhile, are posting online announcements about the White House’s “Faith and Community ACA Days of Action” this weekend.
Jewish women’s groups have visited college campuses to get students who think they’re “invincible” to sign up for health insurance.
As the national March 31 deadline for health insurance enrollment looms and with President Obama’s encouragement, organizations across a range of faiths are working to sign up uninsured Americans for coverage under Obamacare.
She wrote in an article on the same topic for the magazine Soujourners, saying, “I can’t help feeling that while some of the concerns about the effects of a “birth control culture” may be valid, I also worry that to deny women access to contraception — especially when we’re talking about women in the developing world — is to trivialize what more children means in a place like Malawi, or, say, Somaliland, where women have a one in 14 lifetime risk of dying in childbirth.”
SEVERAL YEARS AGO, before Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, many people were clear on the need to get health care for our brothers and sisters and joined in the push to reform the delivery system for health care in this country. When it was enacted, we were thrilled that those who had such difficulty getting even the most basic care for themselves and their children would finally have some health security.
But the notorious website problems—including the crashes, the inability to access it, the insurance programs that have been canceled, and the smaller-than-expected number of people who have been enrolled—have frustrated, discouraged and sometimes challenged us. This has been complicated by political bombast and in some cases, sadly, vicious character assassinations.
As people of faith, it is important not to be swept up in these problems, but to relentlessly pursue access to health care for the 48 million people who do not have health insurance today. We also need to remember that the ACA is more than a website. Think of the millions of young adults who can now stay on their parents’ insurance and the thousands of small businesses that have received tax credits for providing insurance to their employees.
The new rules that guarantee comprehensive insurance coverage, no barriers to preventive care, no pre-existing condition limits, and no lifetime limits on coverage have already made a huge difference in the lives of many families. The portion of the law that requires insurance companies to spend 80 to 85 percent of premium revenue on actual care rather than profits or dividends to shareholders will do much to make the cost of insurance more reasonable.
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This morning at breakfast, I was reading an article in the newspaper about how the Affordable Care Act is negatively affecting some individuals — especially those who buy their own insurance, rather than receiving it through an employer. The article was interesting, but what struck me the most was the way the problem was framed. Rather than approaching the story from a public policy angle, the article mainly focused on the reaction of consumers of health-care goods and services. The crux of the article was whether some individuals should be required to buy a product they might not want or need so that other individuals could have affordable access to health-care products they need desperately but might not be able to afford under the old regime.
The dilemma was presented as a story of tension between healthier consumers and less healthy consumers fighting to get the best deal for their health-care dollars. But could there be another way of thinking about health care, and about our society as a whole? Is there a framework that would allow us to consider these questions in a way that assumed connection, caring, and community between individuals, rather than the zero-sum competition of the market?
Yes, President Obama said that if we like our health insurance, we can keep it.
Yes, that turned out to be false for a few million people.
Yes, the president chose his words poorly. Whether or not health reform became the law of the land, there’s no way any president could have known if we’d be able to keep our health insurance from one year to the next.
The theatrics around the Affordable Care Act seem only to be matched by the public’s ignorance about what it actually is. Case in point: when late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel sent a reporter out on the street to ask people their opinions, they felt markedly better about the nuts and bolts of the Affordable Care Act than they did about Obamacare.
Never mind they’re the same thing (sigh).
It seems that a handful of lawmakers have seen to it that our ignorance is sown into full-blown fear, obfuscating the fact that the shutdown – which was largely a fight over the ACA – cost our economy about $25 billion. For those who have been following even on a cursory level, the arguments against the ACA are becoming quite familiar:
· The individual mandate infringes on my freedom not to have insurance.
The whole thing costs too much.
It’s a slippery slope to a single-payer system.
On this last point, we can only hope the critics are right, particularly since a single-payer health care system is the only model that has offered hard evidence of both covering everyone and reducing total costs. But since we’re not there yet, let’s consider what we do have with this new law.
It was a strange, but telling, spectacle when those who billed the government millions for working on its Affordable Health Care registration system denied any accountability for the portal’s astounding failure.
“The other guy did it,” as they say in court. The client kept changing specs, no one did any whole-system testing, other vendors are to blame — blah, blah, blah.
Whatever shred of truth lay in their blame-shifting ran up against another wall of non-accountability. The Republicans did it with their insane sequestration, said Democrats. The Democrats did it, said the GOP. Health and Human Services did it. The Oval Office did it.
In the end, of course, no one will accept accountability, for we live in an age when the “buck” never stops on one’s own desk, if it stops at all.