Letter to the Editor

Disagrees with Chronicle’s editorial

To the editor:

I’m writing in response to the Hampton Chronicle’s editorial defending Tom Latham’s un-vetted alternative healthcare plans, and position on the government shutdown.  As Iowans, we are sick of these political games that take us from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis.  We are also sick and tired of those who invoke the constitution, yet readily abandon constitutional legislative process when it suits them.

I personally found much of the Chronicle’s criticism of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) highly speculative, and largely unsupported by facts; none of which were offered in support of the Chronicle’s opinion.  Let’s start with some facts.

The ACA, also known as Obamacare, is the law of the land, which has been endorsed by both the American Medical Association and the AARP.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that Obamacare will in fact lower both deficit spending and Medicare expenses over the next 10 years.  The ACA was passed by a super-majority of the Senate in 2009.  It was then passed by a majority of the House, and signed into law by the President in 2010.  This is the only constitutional process for creating, amending and repealing laws.

The ACA was subsequently challenged by the Supreme Court and ruled constitutional in the summer of 2012.  Republican appointed Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the deciding vote, and offered the final legal opinion.  With that decision, Obamacare is the settled law of the land.  Like any other law, it is subject to modification only through a defined legislative process.  Rep. Latham is free to propose amendment or full repeal of any law through the same legislative process which originally passed the ACA.  But like every other law of the land, the ACA is not negotiable, or subject to modification through extortion.  Absent the votes to challenge the law through due process, the Republican controlled house is now resorting to extortion.

Further, these legislators are ignoring the will of the people.  Healthcare reform was a focal point of the 2008 Presidential election, and Obamacare itself was a focal point of the 2012 Presidential election.  In both cases, Iowans, and Americans spoke loudly with their votes by resoundingly electing, and then re-electing President Obama.

Let’s cut through the political rhetoric, and look at just a few of the actual benefits of the Affordable Care Act, which are beginning to take effect. 

1.    Pre-existing conditions are now covered.  More than 168,000 children in Iowa have pre-existing conditions.  Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on a preexisting condition.

2.    Medicare now covers recommended preventive care without any co-pays or deductibles, helping seniors with avoidable problems that may otherwise go undetected.  Last year, 352,000 Iowans got a free preventive service like lifesaving cancer screenings, immunizations and regular checkups.

3.    Under Obamacare lifetime caps were eliminated.  Insurance companies can no longer impose arbitrary lifetime limits on insurance coverage, so families no longer face bankruptcy if a family member falls ill or is born with a health concern.

4.    The insurance exchanges offered under Obamacare are offering health care plans with competing prices that are accessible and affordable.  Iowa’s rates are some of the lowest in the nation.

There is a clearly defined legislative process for creating and amending laws.  That process does not include holding the government hostage, or playing roulette with the full faith and credit of the United States.  It is simply irresponsible political posturing to shut down the government when the ACA is settled law and its benefits are already helping Iowans.   It’s time for us as a country to move forward and reap the benefits of a more competitive marketplace, and higher quality outcomes thanks to Obamacare.

Michael Ziegler,

Franklin County Democrat Chair