“We won!” These were the opening remarks from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Texas Public Policy Foundation gathering this week in Austin. The ballroom was filled with 300 conservatives who all knew what he meant. General Paxton was referencing his lawsuit to deem the Affordable Health Care Act unconstitutional on behalf of Texas and 19 other states.
The ACA has been plagued with problems from the start. Remember the “death panels”? Bad marketing, poor timing and a determined opposition had all but crushed it from the get-go.
The ACA is simply an insurance exchange (a website that compares various insurance companies’ offerings) where those who need insurance can go to shop. For those who can’t afford the coverage the federal government helps pay a portion of the premium.
Not having insurance coverage is something that only affects about 2-3% of Americans. The truly poor are covered by Medicaid. The working middle class are generally covered by their employers. It’s the self-employed, under employed and working poor who fall through the cracks. These are the 10-12 million Americans who often put off going to the doctor or dentist to make sure their other bills are paid; their cars have gas and their kids are fed.
Insurance coverage has been a “hot” topic across the country since the ACA was enacted. Many Americans were upset because they don’t want to pay for other people to have insurance. The truth is, we do pay. We pay in our county hospitals when a diabetic is rushed in because they never saw their primary care physician to refill their meds. Paying for insurance is not only a less expensive alternative, it saves lives. Prevention is always better than restoration.
In hindsight, it seems obvious that we should have addressed this issue before now and perhaps, in another way. We might have said, this is hard, how are we going to fix it? Why don’t we try solution A, then if that doesn’t work, we can try solution B, then if that doesn’t work, we can try C. Because isn’t that what we do in our everyday lives? This is how we learn, trial and error. It’s not realistic to expect our policy makers to have all of the answers all the time. Especially when it’s something that has never been done before.
Sadly, the ACA was dismantled before we were ever given the opportunity to see if it could work. Success was never really an option, and now it seems we don’t have a plan b.
For those who are happy that America’s experiment has failed and are applauding as the ACA implodes, I caution you. Because as bad as you may believe the ACA was, having nothing is even worse.