Let's talk about fiscal responsibility: Affordable care success and the GOP's envy

Let's talk about fiscal responsibility: Affordable care success and the GOP's envy

April 19th, 2014 in Opinion Times

The GOPers who have done everything they could think of to discredit the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- must have a bitter taste in their mouths today.

President Obama announced Thursday that 8 million people have signed up for health insurance under the ACA, including a sufficient number of young, healthy adults, a critical milestone that pans election-year attacks by Republicans.

The total number of enrollees exceeds by 1 million the target set by the administration for people to buy insurance from commercial insurers through government-run health care exchanges. And it costs less than most people predicted a few months ago.

All this despite GOP governors in 21 states -- including Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama -- spurning the program for partisan purposes. In doing so, those governors hurt 5 million of their own citizens by denying them both insurance and health care choice (a favorite Republican term).

That's right, the ACA gives people choice, rather than giving insurance companies the choice of covering you or dropping you. It also gives you coverage choices.

The GOP likes to talk about fiscal responsibility, but its politicians won't tax to pay the bills they vote to incur in Congress. They shut down the government. They risk international confidence in the dollar. They persistently deny social acceptance and respect to minorities, women and the poor. And in 21 states, they cheated their own taxpayers of federal money to cover insurance for people who were denied insurance choice.

If those governors were afraid the program wouldn't work, then why not try it while the federal government was offering to pay for it in full with our money already collected and already reallocated? If the program didn't work, the states could pull out later and still not have spent a dime of their own money.

What those 21 governors did had nothing to do with fiscal responsibility and everything to do with partisan politics.

Meanwhile, however, the ACA already has helped 129 million Americans with pre-existing health conditions, including 17 million children, who now are no longer in danger of losing health coverage or having premiums rise drastically. The ACA also means 105 million people no longer have to worry about reaching a lifetime cap on insurance benefits, something that was made illegal under the ACA. And 8 million older Americans have saved $10 billion -- that's 10 billion with a "b" -- because of lower prescription drug costs under the law.

Oh, and did we mention that the law saves taxpayer money?

Intense price competition among health plans in the marketplaces for individuals lowered premiums below projected levels. As a result of these lower premiums, the federal government will save about $190 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates made by the Center for American Progress last fall.

Saving $190 billion over the next decade.

Now that's fiscal responsibility.