Forum Left, 4/3/12

You Care, I Care, We All Care

By Jolene Pohl

It is fantastic that our country’s president has a lot of experience with Constitutional law; since he was the first African-America president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990, the details of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) do not elude him in any manner. He is well-versed on the constitutionality of this legislation, which is probably why he chose in the first place to base his campaign on ensuring mandates on health care.

I must insert some bragging here, because I was in the front row of his Cleveland appearance in 2010 as Congress prepared to vote for this groundbreaking work. The legislation, which was heavily compromised across partisan lines, passed with a very close vote less than a week later. The final vote gave me relief and was overwhelming emotionally because I knew of the many lives that were going to be enhanced in our country, permanently. The Supreme Court can review the details of the mandate all they want, but the tragic decisions that many Americans have had to make, deciding whether to take care of their health needs or pay bills on time, has come to an end. With any luck, this same horrible dilemma will be obsolete for all Americans someday with the use of a public option for affordable insurance similar to what Congress currently has the luxury of purchasing.

The ACA is a collaboration of the industry of health insurance and the role of government to maintain the general welfare of citizens. The Commerce clause is an important detail to some people, I guess. Despite what the Constitution clearly states in black and white, “to regulate Commerce…among the several states,” some like to continue to politicize the ACA mandate. This clause is interpreted as allowing regulation of interstate Commerce which has created widening disparity of costs, such as the current increases in premiums for health insurance across various states.  So, the political uproar about the government trying to force broccoli down people’s throats, a recent Fox network discussion, is inherently meant to confuse and divide the public. The irony of the situation is how unconstitutional it would be for the government not to regulate health insurance commerce when it is obviously at such an unconscionable level of profiteering.

The Supreme Court will do its job, hopefully, and adhere to the regulation powers granted to the government by the Constitution. Those details are really quite boring compared to the significant changes in the lives of people since the ACA was passed. According to the non-partisan group, Doctors for America, the ACA will soon rid insured families of the worry that a pre-existing medical condition, such as a broken bone, hay fever, and depression, is a blockade to health insurance that they can afford. Small businesses will no longer have to carry the burden about whether to insure their youngest employees because coverage for anyone under the age of 26 can be bought on a parent’s insurance plan. Also, small businesses will enjoy an increased tax credit to assist with the costs of coverage.

Doctors for America have a great website about the changes already implemented due in thanks to this legislation. Just as President Obama said he would do with this Act, the donut hole for senior citizens on the Medicare Part D program has been adjusted. An automatic discount occurs now when they pick up their prescriptions, up to 50 percent on covered-brand name drugs, according to DFA.  The after-effects of these types of changes have already been positively working as a boost to our economy. If we do not implement a balanced approach to health insurance the DFA estimates the average family will pay up to $37, 566 in no less than a decade for their coverage per year. This is not a political stage, this is reality.

There are no words to describe the unnecessary suffering of millions of American families as health care costs have steadily increased each year. It seems things can only get better from this point onward. Once regulations are in place to maintain proper use of the money poured into insurance premiums, better the quality of care and attention given to patients will result. The playing field has been leveled for the insured to have a greater stake in the decisions about their own care. There are no politics necessary for understanding that this is nothing but an asset to our country’s future, our security and overall, our success as a nation of leaders.

When I hear feedback from concerned citizens, it is mostly about focusing on the “real” problems in our country. My simple answer back is: Where can we go if we have an unhealthy workforce? Everything begins and ends with providing a decent chance to obtain equal care. The exploitation of the system has gone on long enough. So long in fact, that our own president remembers watching his mother pass away from a cancer that could have been treated, only because she could not afford to pay the cost to live.

The real concern the Supreme Court should focus on is the portion of the Constitution that precedes the commerce clause. Article 1, Section 8 begins: “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States” – thus providing a summary of the dedication our law has to maintaining our welfare before that of any commerce and to doing so with equality in mind. I look forward to what the Supreme Court decides.

Jolene Pohl is a dedicated Dayton democrat volunteer/activist and a WSU grad student. Her favorite past-times include banter, debate and laughing out loud. She can be reached at JolenePohl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Current Graduate student at Wright State University. I should finish a Master's of Humanities by fall 2012. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio but my heart belongs with half of my family in New Mexico! "We are only as strong as the weakest link." You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter @DemWSU AND Google+

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