June 4, 2012
Fate Of Affordable Care Act Could Impact Many
The Supreme Court's decision regarding the Constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is expected to come by the end of the month, and should they overturn the law, the consequences could be dire for some who have come to count on provisions of the legislation, Reuters reported on Sunday.
According to writer David Morgan, the PPACA, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010, was the largest overhaul of the American healthcare system in nearly half a century, and was "intended to extend coverage to more than 30 million more Americans, create competitive health insurance exchanges in all 50 states and find new ways to deliver effective healthcare at lower costs."
However, 26 states and other organizations have challenged whether or not the law violates the US Constitution. They argue that "it represents an encroachment by the federal government on the individual right to choose healthcare, meddles in the business of the states, and would saddle consumers with higher costs and less access to care," Morgan added. Arguments in the case were heard in March, Reuters said.
If the Supreme Court sides with those challenging the PPACA, parts or all of the law could immediately become invalid, Morgan reports. Should that happen, people such as Sam Lovett of Texas -- who was without health insurance due to a pre-existing condition and unable to undergo a life-saving organ transplant until enrolling in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) -- could be the big losers in the highly partisan battle.
"Without this, you're going to die," Lovett told Reuters. "From my perspective, that's what the Supreme Court will sanction, or not -- whether people will be allowed to die because they can't get insurance."
"Unlike people in many other rich nations where health insurance is near universal, many Americans struggle without medical coverage even as the country pays more for healthcare than anywhere else in the world," Morgan said. "Many Americans receive health insurance only because their employers provide it as a job benefit. But some companies, particularly smaller employers, do not offer it. People with pre-existing medical conditions often are denied private coverage when they try to buy it on their own."
Regardless of their stance on the PPACA law itself, most politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, believe that something needs to be done in order to provide medical coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, Morgan said. Likewise, he notes that several GOP bills currently in Congress would look to establish insurance pools to extend affordable medical coverage to those most in need.
"We need to get rid of the entire thing and start over with a very deliberative process," Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer told Reuters. "There's bipartisan recognition that these are valid concerns that need to be addressed. But we need to do it in a way that doesn't put government in the middle of healthcare."
However, should the law be overturned, replacing it could be an uphill battle, Morgan argues.
"If the whole law or key provisions are struck down, it may be tough to get any alternatives through a Congress in partisan gridlock even after the election. Republicans currently control the House of Representatives and Obama's fellow Democrats the Senate," he said, adding that conservative lawmakers "are working on an alternative healthcare agenda" and could move "to reinstate some of [PPACA's] more popular consumer protections such as a provision, already in effect, that lets young adults remain under their parents' health insurance plans to age 26."
"But the uninsured or uninsurable could wait months or years for an alternative plan to help them," the Reuters reporter added. "Meanwhile, many people without insurance fear that a major illness could lead to astronomical healthcare bills and doom them to bankruptcy."