Supreme Court decision on health-care law a victory for Washington families
Washington families won in the Supreme Court ruling on health care, writes University of Washington faculty member Bob Crittenden. We need government making sure our kids are healthy and setting rules so insurance companies do the right thing.
Special to The Times
WASHINGTON families won in the U.S. Supreme Court. We all need government working for us, not against us — making sure our kids are healthy, setting rules so insurance companies do the right thing, and ensuring that losing a job or starting a business is not grounds for losing health coverage or bankruptcy.
We have been engaged in a partisan battle, and it is time to work together to make sure our children will be healthier and have a better future.
State Attorney General Rob McKenna says all he cares about is the mandate and whether it is constitutional. It is constitutional now and he should support the implementation of the law.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act, like Mitt Romney and the Republican Congress, want to throw the whole law out.
American people want the insurance protections, prevention and peace of mind that come with this law. The politicians should listen to the American people instead of their political party.
The truth is, the Affordable Care Act is the result of years of work by Republicans and Democrats, doctors, nurses and hospitals, and businesses, labor and patients working together here to find solutions to our intractable health problems — soaring costs, poor outcomes and terrible inequities.
The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the individual mandate, and consequently the health law, enables us to make sure the new insurance-company rules work, rules such as ending denial of coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
This decision affects only those who can afford coverage but have opted not to purchase insurance. In Massachusetts, where there is already a state mandate, only 0.6 percent of the residents choose to pay the penalty instead of purchasing insurance. Most people actually want insurance. Finally, people with insurance don't have to pay for people who decide not to buy.
This law is much more than the mandate.
In Washington, the insurance protections in the Affordable Care Act allow us to move ahead implementing our health-insurance market with fair rules, eliminating caps on care for sick people and making prevention available for all people — including seniors on Medicare — for cancer screening and maternity care.
It ensures that prevention is a core part of our health system. More than a million people have already received prevention services. Our soaring health-care costs are caused by obesity, tobacco use and unhealthy behaviors that all start in childhood. These epidemics affect lower-income people more than anyone and they have few tools to combat them.
Health departments across the state of Washington are implementing projects that assist their communities in reducing these burdens. These projects are controlled locally and supported by the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Local Washington communities in 2011 received $14 million to decrease exposure of youth to tobacco and increase options for healthy foods in corner grocery stores, among other projects.
Yes, everyone needs to take responsibility for their health (and I tell my patients that daily), but they need places to exercise and good food to eat. These funds help communities solve their own problems.
The law provides more peace of mind and fairness for people who lose insurance or can't afford care for their families. A new health-insurance marketplace, known as an exchange here, will be implemented in Washington in 2014 that will offer coverage and provide choice and control for small-business owners and individuals.
By pooling, people who have not been able to afford coverage in the past will get an affordable choice of quality options. And, the law has already allowed more than 15,000 seniors in Washington to save an average of $1,300 annually on their prescriptions.
We need to move forward, stop the political bickering and implement this law.Bob Crittenden, M.D., M.P.H., is on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Public Health and School of Medicine.