The deadline to sign up this year for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace plans is only a week away. Now, the final push is on to get as many people as possible covered.
Monday, March 31, is the final day to sign up under the open-enrollment period and the pace has hurried quite a bit since the ACA’s dismal, slow start last October. Starting this year, most people who don’t have health insurance but can afford it will face penalties.
The law has met with much resistance from the day it was first proposed. Republicans in Congress repeatedly have voted to defund what has been dubbed “Obamacare.”
Elected officials at all levels of government have campaigned against it and for it. It has become one of the most divisive issues the nation has seen, prompting vitriolic rants against the system as well as praise for helping those long living with out any insurance protection.
The health-reform law gave states the option of establishing their own marketplace or participating in a federally run exchange.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 17 states have their own exchanges. The remaining states are relying on the federal marketplace or created a hybrid federal-state operation.
In many cases, including Kansas and Missouri, the decision not to establish a state exchange was seated in staunch conservative Republican and/or voter opposition to Obamacare.
In November 2012, Missouri voters approved a proposition barring the governor or any state agency from helping establish an exchange without legislative or voter approval.
Conservative Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who ran for office campaigning against the health reform law, turned away $31.5 million in federal grant money the state could have used to establish its own exchange. He also passed on a plan that would have let the state partner with the federal government on a marketplace, opting instead for one run solely by the national government.
Is Obamacare perfect? Heck no.
There are a lot of flaws, miscalculations and other problems. Then there was the botched roll-out of the program’s website and the delays of various aspects of the law.
But, politicians of all political stripes have been calling for reform in the health-care industry for decades. Nothing has ever happened until now.
Like it or not, this is the law of the land. The ACA was approved by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court.
The system is broken and needs to be fixed. If nothing else, this law serves as a good starting point to spawn meaningful reform.
However, this will take tremendous resolve and a willingness to see beyond traditional party lines. Do our leaders have what it takes? We’ll see.