We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the Affordable Care Act since the Supreme Court upheld it. Not many people have read all 2,600 pages of the act once, let alone three times. But Thomas McAuliffe has done that. He also has been to 163 meetings discussing what the law really says.
He’s an analyst for the Missouri Foundation for Health. He says it’s not the greatest things since sliced bread–his phrase describing the atitude of the strongest supporters of the act— but he says it’s not the end of the Republic either, a phrase describing the attitudes of the law’s harshest critics.
The Foundation has found strong support for individual parts of the law that often are ignored in the partisan debate. It released a survey in January, 2011, a few weeks after Missourians voted 71 percent in favor of proposal expressing disapproval of the act, showing strong support for giving small businesses tax credits making it easier for them to buy health insurance (88%), protecting against insurance company price gouging (88%), a voluntary program letting workers buy insurance to help pay for personal care or supportive in-home services as an altenrative to nursing home care (86%), requiring insurance plans to cover preventive care such as breast and cancer colon cancer screenings (85%), making it illegal for insurance companies to cut off coverage when patients get sick, and outlawing hidden caps on their screening (84%), helping buy coverage for low and modeate income Americans who don’t get insurance through their jobs (76%), and making it illegal for insurance companies to deny care based on pre-existing conditions (74%).
The MFH survey showed ony 22% of the people surveyed knew that all of those provisions are part of the Affordable Care Act. The foundation says overall support for the act rose to 43% once the respondents knew more about what was in it. The Foundation notes sentiments was still against the law but saw the results meaning public support for the law would improve as people knew more about the specifics .
McAuliffe says the law addresses many of the complications in our healthcare system although it is not a complete solution to them. McAuliffe says the law improves access to health insurance. But it does not solve the problem of access to health care. He says greater access to insurance will mean greater numbers of people seeking medical care. But he worries about shortages of doctors, nurses, or nurse practitioners. He calls the law “a vast wasteland of question marks.”
McAuliffe says the answer is not total repeal or discussions of things that are not in the law–death panels and the end of the American insurance industry, for example. He says it would be good policy for Congress to cherry pick the parts of the law that will work and address those that need improvement.