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Repealing health care reform

Republicans' efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act will complicate planning by seniors, who have already benefited from the new law.

By Karen Datko Jan 20, 2011 6:59PM

This post comes from Jennie L. Phipps at partner site's Retirement Blog.


Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have launched an assault on the Affordable Care Act, or ACA -- voting for repeal, not modification.

Medicare recipients have already received some benefits from the law, and the House vote Wednesday only increases the complexity of retirement planning. Among the changes in the ACA are the following key improvements:

  • Partial closing of the the Medicare Part D coverage gap, known as the "doughnut hole." In 2010, individuals in the doughnut hole were eligible to receive a $250 rebate on drug costs. This year, they will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs, so long as the ACA remains intact.
  • Expanded preventive care services. The ACA eliminates co-pays for many Medicare-covered preventive services, including mammograms, colonoscopies and osteoporosis screenings.
  • Improved access to insurance for people younger than 65. If you are older than 50 and don't get insurance at work, it has been nearly impossible in some states to buy coverage on your own. Under the ACA, those with pre-existing conditions can join their state's high-risk pools, which are mandated by the ACA. Beginning in 2014, people in this category will have access to even more insurance options through plans offered on state-based health exchanges and expanded Medicaid.

Supporters of the ACA says it will save taxpayers money in the long run and reduce the federal budget deficit by controlling health care costs. Those who would repeal the law say the Congressional Budget Office, which calculated these savings, made mistakes and this will soon be an entitlement program that runs amuck. Post continues after video.

It seems unlikely that the Republicans will be able to muster enough votes in both houses of Congress to push through repeal -- and personally, I'm glad. Moving toward broader health care coverage seems smarter and better for people approaching or living in retirement than the GOP's dig-in-your-heels commitment to the status quo.


My recent experience with a death in the family showed me Medicare's strength and some of its warts, and it left me with the conviction that no public health care program is ever going to be perfect -- but having one available is extraordinarily important.


Fundamentally, I agree with this point of view from Calvin Bruce, managing editor of Jackson & Coker, a health care research firm, who said: "One can only hope that the impact and benefits of medical technology, drug discoveries and scientific advancements will overshadow any setbacks experienced in implementing health care reform stemming from renewed debate in legislative circles."


In other words, we can't just stand still.


More from and MSN Money:

Jan 24, 2011 11:14PM
It would be great if the president and congress all had to be on this health plan that they are REQUIRING everyone to take part in... Guess they don't actually believe in what they are doing to the American people... or perhaps they know darn well what they are doing, and they are protecting themselves from it!  It's time to vote every single one of them out and start over!
Jan 21, 2011 9:07AM
I think it is great that since the government has bankrupted the Medicare system, they take over the entire medical system rather than try to correct the mistakes they made with Medicare.  I can't wait to deal with an IRS type agency before I get to go to my doctor for treatment.
Jan 21, 2011 3:50PM
I think people really don't understand just what a huge deal the donut hole is. It's about $4,000 out of pocket that you have to spend before you can be covered again. That's not including Medicare premiums -- admittedly, quite reasonable for insurance, -- of $96-115 a month. 

I recently got off disability (hooray!) but still need Medicare because I'm a contract worker, so no health benefits. I will hit the donut hole after June, according to Medicare. That would mean 6 months of $700+ for my four medications. But thanks to the ACA, I'll be paying $213. That's a pretty big deal.

Most people can't afford those prices, even when they are working, so how do we expect them to afford it when they're retired?

You can argue about power grabs or people getting screwed over. But what about all of the seniors who have been risking their health by stretching out their medications (or simply going without) because they can't afford prescription prices?

There do need to be some changes to Medicare, yes. (Namely, it's ridiculous that people who don't join as soon as they're eligible are actually penalized. It needs to be the reverse.) But you cannot afford to be sick in this country and something needs to be done about it. 

And it's not just the elderly. I was 19 when I contracted a rare neurological disease that run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospital bills. Luckily, my parents had good insurance. On the other hand, friends of my husband's family had to declare bankruptcy when one of their three children developed kidney disease. 

Mar 14, 2013 12:43PM

the only thing obama care has done  1. made it hard for me to feed my kids

                                                            2 Raised the cost of medical insurance.

                                                            3 .Lowered the coverage of medical insurance.

                                                            4. Raised  taxes, and made a mess of them

                                                            5 The Cost of living is going thru the roof. (its almost 5.00 for a

                                                            gallon of milk)

                                                             6 the only thing i see is a smaller pay check                   

                                                             7 what good does being able to afford  medical insurance if it doesn't cover the problem. and the medical industry just raise their prices any way.

I like to know what actual changes they have made  that were for us.   and don't give me that nonsense about major medical problems , even with good medical insurance i still ended up paying as much as five hundred dollars for  15 minute doctors visit,for a specialist. they are feeding us a line, they have not changed anything for us. just taken more money from us and given to the insurance industry.  every time they stick their nose into something the only thing that happens is we get poor. and the problem doesn't get solved    do these people in washington work for us. My guess is they don't.   Because what they are saying has nothing to do with every day life.    

Jan 21, 2011 1:25PM
Those who would repeal the law actually say it was also an unconstitutional power grab.  Obviously with the senior benefits, what's done is done.  I don't find it impossible to relate with being happy to get a break, either, even with the knowledge that somebody else got screwed in the deal.  But remember the immortal words of John Donne -- no man is an island; never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee -- when one person gets screwed in the liberty department, we all pay a cost that can't be measured in dollars.
Jun 9, 2011 6:15AM
What a great idea!!!  Instead of having the Federal government administer a certain standard of health care insurance coverage nationwide, why don't we let the States administer their own separate plans, with some States competing to see which can offer the best health care benefits to their own people, and with other States competing to see which can run the cheapest-possible program, which would force as many health care costs as possible onto such State's luckless citizens, with the goal of eventually hopefully stealing businesses from higher-cost States!!! 

No thanks, not for me, I would actually prefer one cohesive standard all across the US which would not allow the cheapest States to compete with the higher-cost States over health care coverage costs.  I have a pre-existing condition through no fault of my own, and frankly I need the ACA provision banning discrimination against me and other such people.  As I am also out of my 30+ year career due to declining eyesight, I could really benefit from an expansion of Medicare to as low as age 56 too.

Imagine that you are age 54, thrown out of your decent-paying career because of a partial loss of sight in just your left eye, and having to learn an entirely now career from scratch, without any medical insurance coverage for a minimum of the next 11 years, because one of three dentists botched a root canal operation in 1986, that eventually resulted in you having to have a blood transfusion in 1987, that gave you an unknown virus, which you didn't even know that you had until 19 years later, long after the statute of limitations had expired???  Just my kind of luck, eh???   Sorry, we can't afford to continue to insure you now that you have lost your job because of your left eye???   Don't laugh, as it can happen to anyone, at least until 2014 under present law, by when I'll be old enough to get Medicare!!! 

I guess that we will just have to wait until after the 2012 elections (or later) to see if one of our political parties can gain enough support to hold a majority in both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency, like the Democrats did when this law was passed, as the ACA law will stand until then, I promise you!!!   
Jan 21, 2011 8:50PM

I really don't know how anyone could vote republican with good conscious any longer.


Republicans get sick just as often as the democrats. They can lose their homes due to their illness, just like the democrats. They can be denied medical care, just like the democrats. Now, it will be more likely, I guess.

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