According to a June 8 report in Science Daily, 13.7 million young people either remained on or signed on to health care coverage through the health insurance of their parents. This is an early benefit coming from President Barack Obama’s signature law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many benefits from the full ACA doesn’t go into effect until 2014. Science Daily says 6.6 million of these 19 to 25 year olds “would likely not have been able to” get coverage without the passage of the ACA.
This information is good news and comes from a report issued by the Commonwealth Fund, “Young, Uninsured and in Debt: Why Young Adults Lack Health Insurance and How the Affordable Care Act is Helping.”
But the news is not all rosy. Almost 39% of young adults in the age group did not qualify for coverage and 36% had serious problems with medical bills causing them to lose their savings, default on tuition and student loans, change their career and educational plans, or run out of money for rent, heat or food, according to the report.
Republicans, who derisively refer to the ACA as “Obamacare” and promise to junk it if they capture the White House and Congress in the fall, may not be concerned with the problems of these young people, especially since most of them come from low-income families and whose problems are not high on the list of Republican concerns. But the vast majority of the American people who are workers in the low and middle income ranges have everything to gain and nothing to lose by seeing the provisions of the ACA go into effect.
However, the Supreme Court may fulfill the Republicans’ promise with its anticipated decision on the health care law. Observers say conservatives on the court, as was the case in the Citizens United ruling, don’t care about the Constitution or checks and balances of power as long as the far right extremists prevail.
“If the Affordable Care Act goes down – especially if it suffers the same schismatic 5-to-4 blow sustained by the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in the Citizens United case,” wrote Politico, “critics will accuse the Roberts Court of rigging the game and covering their power play with constitutional doublespeak. The case is also a critical test of Robert’s role as the leader of his own court: In decades past, chief justices have labored mightily to secure something approaching consensus on major decisions.”
Sara Collins of the Commonwealth Fund said, “While the Affordable Care Act has already provided a new source of coverage for millions of young adults at risk of being uninsured, more help is needed for those left behind. The law’s major insurance provisions slated for 2014, including expanded Medicaid and subsidized private plans through state insurance exchanges, will provide nearly all young adults across the income spectrum with affordable and comprehensive health plans.”
Although the fight to add a public option to the ACA must continue, the plan as it stands today is the best and most comprehensive option the American people have at hand to alleviate the suffering and even premature deaths of thousands of people the Republicans would leave out in the streets for lack of ability to pay for costly overpriced private insurance. This is literally a life and death issue for thousands of people and the ACA must be preserved at all costs.
As Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis remarked, “The Affordable Care Act will provide all Americans with affordable coverage, and help young adults achieve healthy, productive, and financially secure futures.”
That the Republicans, in their rush to serve the selfish interests of the corporate elite, the 1%, and are willing to sacrifice the health and well being of the American people in the process, should be a sufficient guarantee to ensure their defeat in November. Their only hope of victory rests on voter suppression and distortion of the facts regarding their true intentions.
Photo: Doctors, nurses, medical students, seniors and their supporters marched through Sacramento, Calif., on their way to the Capitol for a rally in support of Medicare for all, Jan. 9. Rich Pedroncelli/AP