Undermining Universal Health Care

Here’s an interesting concept; given the bleak prospects of a national universal health coverage plan, let’s not have Congress undermine the efforts by states to provide universal health coverage for their citizens.

I have been keeping a close eye on Massachusetts ever since Gov. Mitt Romney signed landmark legislation designed to guarantee coverage for virtually all residents, including an estimated 550,000 now uninsured. The bill, while not perfect, provided a ray of hope for people across the political spectrum that can appreciate the vital need for universal health coverage.

After years of failed attempts, Massachusetts worked out this bill without creating a new tax to fund this initiative. But what they did to “ensure that the healthcare coverage is affordable for everyone, the Massachusetts plan [also] strictly limits the premiums that can be charged by insurance companies.” And to further ensure that the rights of the disenfranchised were protected, the Massachusetts bill also sees to it that certain benefits are guaranteed. What you talkin’ bout Willis? I’m talking about “treatment for alcoholism, mammography screenings, diabetes supplies, and mental health treatment.”

But I am so upset at our Republican-led Congress that decided during “Health Week,” they would craft legislation that “could undercut the new universal health insurance law in Massachusetts, by freeing insurers to brush aside state-required benefits and to charge older and sicker residents far higher premiums.” It is funny to me how Republicans always claim to wrap their arms around small businesses without regard for the millions of workers that make small businesses possible.

Republicans claim their goal with this legislation is to lower the cost of health care by “releasing insurance companies from state requirements to cover an expanded array of treatments and screenings. The bill would also permit insurers to boost premiums for groups of workers who are considered greater health risks.” So how does this affect the Massachusetts bill? It’s just a small part in the bill that states it ”‘shall supersede any and all state laws’ regarding mandated health coverage,” thereby giving a serious body blow to the Massachusetts bill and is an unusual encroachment on state’s rights.

I pray this bill does not pass because it really took the stars to be in alignment for Massachusetts to have had achieved their landmark legislation. And my fear is that if Congress passes this bill, then other states who have thought about following the Massachusetts model will look at the Congressional legislation and say, “What’s the worth in taking political risks to achieve universal health care if Congress is going to undermine our work?”

I know we as young people, sometimes it is hard to have intellectually stimulating conversation over health care. But we cannot wait to think about health care until you are taking care of your parents or struggling to provide for your own family if God forbid, your child has a disease that is expensive to treat. The time is now, get in the game.

Getting back to basics,

Stay up fam,

Brandon

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