Election 2012 Faceoff: Healthcare

Shannon Karst, College Democrat representative

The Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23, 2010, can easily be considered President Barack Obama’s most notable achievement since taking office. By increasing access to health care and by preventing unjust abuses on the part of private insurance companies, the president makes the bold choice to support the health and well-being of all Americans.

Through his reform, insurance companies cannot deny insurance due to pre-existing conditions or drop insurance when an individual becomes ill. They can no longer place lifetime caps or charge women more for health coverage than men. Copayments are eliminated for preventative care, allowing millions to now have free vaccinations, screenings and counseling.

For young people, the deal is even more appealing. On the job hunt after graduation, they no longer have to worry about walking the streets uninsured. They can choose to stay under their parents’ insurance plans until they are 26 years old. In order to increase access to these new reforms, small-business owners will be eligible for tax credits that will help them cover the cost of insurance for their employees.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal these positive changes on “day one” of his presidency. While campaigning in Ohio, he said, “[Obama] wants to put bureaucrats between you and your doctor. He believes that government should tell you what kind of insurance you have to have.”

This is not a factual evaluation of Obama’s health care plan. The individual mandate, which forces the uninsured to obtain health insurance, only pertains to those who are unemployed or those who are not offered health insurance from their employers. The majority of Americans will remain on the same private health insurance plan they were on four years ago.

Obama does not want bureaucrats to make decisions about personal health; by preventing insurance companies from determining how much coverage an individual is given, doctors are able to give their patients the proper medical attention they need, no matter the cost of treatment.

The individual mandate, in fact, was a Republican idea in its inception. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C., first mentioned the term in its 1989 brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” The president presented the mandate as a plan that would advocate personal responsibility – a phrase that Republicans continue to adopt as a distinguishing slogan of their party.

So why, then, is the individual mandate currently so unpopular among Republicans? Why has their slogan of “personal responsibility” now been coined the term of “government takeover”?

The answer is simple: Republicans in Congress will do anything to undermine this administration’s progress. They will go so far as to fervently deny an idea that was originally their own in exchange for a month of lackluster presidential approval ratings.

This very idea is blatantly reflected in their own presidential candidate. The Massachusetts Health Care Insurance Reform Law, signed by Romney as governor in 2006, mandated that nearly every resident of Massachusetts obtain a “state-government-regulated minimum level of health care insurance coverage.” Romney’s criticism of the Affordable Care Act, therefore, could not be more dismally ironic.

The president has made great strides pertaining to health care; he has backed American consumers and strengthened the nation’s health. He is the right choice on Nov. 6.

Katherine Silvestri and Danielle Gerbosi, College Republicans representatives

Many are quick to criticize former Gov. Mitt Romney’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act because they have failed to learn what changes he proposes to apply to the health care system in the future.

Health care accounts for one sixth of our economy in the United States. Naturally, a period of financial stress causes voters to consider the differences between equity and efficiency. Despite the fact that most people would consider a public health care system to be fairer than a private one, voters must educate themselves on the reality of a society dependent upon public health care.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, public health insurance would cost $2,500 more than traditional insurance. In a period of economic decline, the government should take action to decrease all expenses for the American population.

The government can only come up with money for Obamacare in a few ways: The first option is to increase taxes directly – making financial situations of U.S. citizens more challenging than they already are. The next option is that the government pays these higher expenses; this would only add to the extremely severe and growing national deficit.

Another element of Obamacare that Romney contests is the role of an unelected board forming decisions on what treatments individuals may or may not have. Under traditional health care, insurance companies may deny coverage of specific operations of treatments. Individuals, however, always have the choice to pay for these out of pocket. With the practice of public health insurance, everyone receives coverage.

In theory, this idea has the potential to be a positive change for our nation. The health care system, however, would become so saturated that the people who are denied treatments by the aforementioned board will not be able to pursue these treatments on their own.

One of the central reasons Romney is against Obamacare is because it defies the 10th Amendment, which demonstrates the importance of state sovereignty. As the United States of America, we are – believe it or not – many states that are united. Health care needs to vary from state to state, not be universal.

If the government is to best serve its citizens, it must be readapted to satisfy the different needs of different populations. For this purpose, Romney suggests that building multiple health care plans on a state-to-state basis is not only more effective but also essential to maintaining American ideals.

If elected, Romney plans to issue an executive order that enables the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all 50 states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.

In substitute of Obamacare, Romney will pursue policies that give each individual state the power to create a health care reform plan that is optimal for its own citizens. Romney also believes that for the health care system to improve, the patient must be placed at the center of the process. This will drive quality up and cost down, ensuring that services provide what the American people need and want.

Romney proposes that by building health care up to the federal level, we are tampering with a core belief in the foundation of the U.S.: The role of government itself is to allow the people freedom in choice, not to become our only choice.