Obamacare Is Proof That We Need Choices and Affordability

The Affordable Care Act has proved the need for health reform, but it also has proved the need for significant changes to the law to reflect Americans’ demand for more choices of more affordable health coverage. Despite the president’s claims, most Americans are seeing much higher costs for health insurance. They want secure coverage and access to care that meets their needs and the needs of their families, but they want the law to live up to its name of “affordability.”

Nearly half of Americans with health insurance say it is “very” or “somewhat” difficult for them to afford to pay their monthly health insurance premiums, according to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation survey.

There is no question people have been helped by the coverage and subsidies available through the law. Still, it is not winning the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that only 39 percent favor the law and 54 percent oppose it.

A poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for Independent Women’s Voice shows that 58 percent of Americans say the law has had an impact on them, a family member or friend, and twice as many say the impact has been negative, not positive.

The administration has made at least 32 changes to the law since it was enacted, most without benefit of statutory authority. President Obama said, in his speech on June 9, to the Catholic Medical Association, “Let’s figure out how to make it better.” Let’s do it legally, though.

Many Americans are frustrated with the health law, but they also don’t want further disruption of coverage. They definitely want to make sure people do not lose their subsidies and likely their coverage if the Supreme Court finds the Internal Revenue Service acted illegally in allowing tax credits to flow through federal exchanges.

They want the president and members of Congress to exert leadership and work together to recognize what is not working with the law and work together on changes. The King v. Burwell decision could provide an opening to do that. The president’s legacy legislation could well depend upon it.

A Supreme Court decision in favor of the petitioners in King could open the door to compromise legislation. “We will have a Republican alternative,” Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan said Tuesday, echoing a statement made by leaders in both houses of Congress. The goal is to find bipartisan solutions that give Americans the choice of secure, affordable, health coverage and access to care that meets their needs and the needs of their families.

Posted on The New York Times, June 6, 2015