The Free Press, Mankato, MN

September 1, 2013

ACA criticism offered no viable solutions


---- — In arguing for national single payer health care, Dr. Delmer Eggert fails to address this fundamental question: Given the fact that the Affordable Care Act is now law whereas a single payer system is not, is the ACA a huge improvement over what it replaces?

Since the ACA does not meet his single payer ideal, is he really willing to join the right-wing extremist crowd in portraying the ACA as a government boondoggle? His assessment of the ACA is entirely negative. He ignores the ways the ACA reins in private insurance companies by eliminating various practices, by establishing standardized coverages on the insurance exchanges, and by forcing them to direct more revenue to health care.

He ignores the cost control measures the ACA introduces. He ignores the increased revenue the ACA brings to provide health care. He ignores the insurance mandate requirement and the expansion of affordable coverage for tens of millions of Americans. He ignores improvements related to both health care providers and consumers. (I will provide details in a comment on the Free Press website.)

The ACA builds upon the U.S. tradition of employer provided health insurance and free market competition among private insurance companies. I think you have to view the ACA as a final test of that tradition.

There is a long term trend of employers reducing or eliminating health care benefits. They can use the ACA as a convenient excuse to continue that trend by never employing more than 49 workers or not letting employees to put in more than 29 hours per week.

In doing so though, they are hurting their own business when they need more employees and employees working more hours. Furthermore, they will be demonstrating that, regardless of any past merits, employer provided health insurance no longer works in the U.S.

As a goal, the United States needs better, broader health care with lower costs. The tradition of free market competition among private insurers was given a reprieve when the proposed Clinton health care program was dropped in 1994. But private insurers have since failed in meeting that goal. The ACA gives them another reprieve, but under more stringent requirements. If they fail again, they will be demonstrating that, regardless of any past merits, free market competition among private insurers does not meet our need for better, broader health care with lower costs.

While I personally prefer a single payer system, I think we need to acknowledge, first, that the ACA is a huge improvement over what it replaces. And secondly, we should work to make the ACA succeed.

If employers and private insurers show that they’re not up to their tasks under the ACA, then their actions establish all the more the need for a different system. By strongly attacking this government program, it seems to me that you’re just adding fuel to the fires being set by anti-government ideologues bent on sabotaging the ACA.

Ron Yezzi

Mankato