Think Progress: Saturday marks the three year anniversary of President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. While some the law’s most significant provisions won’t go into full effect until next year, many of its important reforms have already taken hold — and have already changed the lives of real Americans for the better. Here are just a few ways that the Affordable Care Act has bolstered the health and financial security of Americans from all around the country:
Refusing coverage and treatments for sick Americans due to their “pre-existing medical conditions” has always ranked among the insurance industry’s most reviled practices. For decades, Americans have recounted horror stories about battling insurance companies while loved ones suffered — like 4-month-old Alex Lange, who was turned away by an insurer for being born “obese.” Thanks to Obamacare, that’s no longer legal, as the consumer protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions has already gone into effect for children.
Statement by the President on the Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
Three years ago today, I signed into law the principle that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one should go broke just because they get sick. The Affordable Care Act will give hard-working, middle class families the health care security they deserve and protect every American from the worst insurance company abuses. Already, millions of seniors are saving $600 a year on their prescription drugs. Millions of young people have been able to stay on their family’s health plan until age 26. Preventive care, like mammograms for women and wellness visits for seniors, is covered free of charge. Most importantly, for the sake of our fiscal future, the growth of health care costs is beginning to slow. In fact, last year, Medicaid costs fell for the first time in decades.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will no longer have unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women more than men. And soon, no American will ever again be denied care or charged more due to a pre-existing condition, like cancer or even asthma.
Later this year, millions of Americans will finally have the opportunity to buy the same kind of health care Members of Congress give themselves. Beginning in October, you’ll be able to sign up for new private health care plans through a new health insurance marketplace where private plans will compete to save middle class families money. Through these marketplaces, Americans and small business owners will be able to choose from a menu of health plans that fit their budget and provide quality coverage they can count on when they need it most. If you like the plan you have, you can keep it. If you cannot afford a plan, you or your small business may get financial assistance to make it affordable.
There’s more work to do to implement this law, and I look forward to working with leaders of both parties to help Americans save money on health care and extend the security of coverage to every family.
President Barack Obama bends over so the son of a White House staff member can pat his head during a family visit to the Oval Office May 8, 2009. The youngster wanted to see if the President’s haircut felt like his own:
12:30: The President arrives in San Antonio, Texas
2:0: Delivers remarks at a campaign event at The Henry B Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio (Live coverage)
3:30: Delivers remarks at a campaign event (Private Residence)
4:50: Departs San Antonio
5:25: Arrives Austin, Texas
6:50: Delivers remarks at a campaign event at Austin Music Hall, Austin, Texas (Live coverage)
8:55: Delivers remarks at a campaign event (Private Residence)
10:10: Departs Austin
1:05 AM: Arrives Joint Base Andrews
1:20 AM: Arrives the White House
Steve Benen: Quite a few Americans are going to go to their mailbox this week and next, open it, and find something unexpected: a check from their insurance company. It’s another side benefit from the Affordable Care Act that most Americans mistakenly thinks they don’t like:
When Laird Le found a check for $70.02 in the mail, he wasn’t quite sure why. Turns out, he’s one of the estimated 13 million Americans that will receive a rebate on their health insurance premiums as a result of the health care reform law recently upheld by the Supreme Court…..
…. “Obamacare” has an 80/20 rule, which requires insurance companies to spend roughly 80% of all premiums on actual health benefits, rather than company overhead (marketing, lobbying, executive salaries, etc.). When an insurer spends less than 80% on health care for its customers, the company is required to send the customer a check for the difference.
How many checks are we talking about? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly 16 million Americans will get rebates before the legal due date, which is Aug. 1…. when they realize it’s because of Obamacare, maybe the law will start to look a little better in those consumers’ eyes….
TPM: President Obama over the past week has hammered away at Mitt Romney’s business record. It’s like he’s “hellbent on making the word ‘Bain’ synonymous with a source of harm or ruin,” Stephen Colbert said on Monday. Over the weekend, the Obama campaign released a blistering new ad, mocking Romney’s rendition of “America the Beautiful” with a series of scathing headlines. “Mitt was originally on key,” Colbert said. “But he outsourced many of those notes to India.”
….. Romney adviser Ed Gillespie tried to clear the whole thing up on Sunday, saying Romney retired from Bain capital “retroactively.” What a novel idea, Colbert thought. “So he wasn’t responsible for firing all of those people whose jobs were outsourced. He was responsible for retroactively not hiring them.”
NYT Editorial: After three days of Mitt Romney complaining about attacks on his record at Bain Capital, it’s clear that President Obama has nothing to apologize for. If Mr. Romney doesn’t want to provide real answers to the questions about his career, he had better develop a thicker skin.
Mr. Romney’s descriptions of when he left Bain have been erratic and self-serving …. now that Bain has been accused of helping other companies outsource jobs overseas, laying off steel company employees and wiping out their pensions, Mr. Romney says he had no management role after 1999. A Kansas City steel plant that Bain bought in 1993 under Mr. Romney’s control, for example, went bankrupt in 2001, costing 750 workers their jobs and pensions. After the Obama campaign made an ad featuring several of the angry workers, the Romney campaign said he couldn’t be blamed because he left Bain in 1999.
….. Mr. Obama’s criticism is fair…. The right way to respond to Mr. Obama is to release his tax returns from that period, or open up Bain documents. But Mr. Romney told CNN he would not release more than the one year’s return he has already released and the one for 2011 when it is finished. “That’s all that’s necessary for people to understand something about my finances,” he said. It’s not even close.
Charles Pierce: …. All weekend, the question arose: What could possibly be in those tax returns that is so goddamn awful that Romney — who is still, remember, no worse than 50-50 to win this thing — is fighting so hard to keep it secret? The more I think about it, the more I believe that this is the answer to that question.
There is nothing in those tax returns that is in any way illegal …. He is not fighting the release of these returns to keep us from finding out the dark secrets about how stupid-wealthy he and his family are. He is fighting the release of these returns because he doesn’t think he should have to release them.
….This isn’t stubbornness. That’s often an acquired trait. What this is, fundamentally, is contempt. Contempt for the process, and contempt for the people who make their living in that process, and contempt for the people whose lives depend on that process. There are rules for The Help with which Willard Romney never has had to abide, and he has no intention of starting now. My dear young fellow, this simply is not done.
USA Today: Good morning from The Oval, on a day when President Obama and his re-election team are taking the fight to Mitt Romney and, geographically at least, House Speaker John Boehner.
The campaign kicked off the day with a memorandum entitled “Unanswered Questions About Mitt Romney’s ‘Retroactive Retirement.’” It’s intended to create even more doubts about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, which he either left in 1999 or 2002, depending on your interpretation.
…. Ben LaBolt:
While Romney has repeatedly tried to distance himself from Bain’s decisions after February 1999, he has also hypocritically taken credit for jobs created well after the 1999 end date that he cites. He can’t have it both ways.
If Romney followed decades of precedent set in motion by his father, who released 12 years of tax returns, as well as the minutes from Bain Capital board meetings, the American people could finally learn to what extent Mitt Romney was involved with the actions at Bain Capital following 1999.
This week, Mitt Romney has the opportunity to provide a full accounting of his tenure at Bain Capital, the central premise of his campaign and the opportunity to demonstrate whether or not he was the job creator he claims to be.
John Cassidy (New Yorker): …. With even prominent Republicans saying that his current stance is unsustainable, the obvious question to ask is: Why is the Mittster being so obstinate? He surely isn’t standing on principle, for what principle would that be?
…… It’s only fair to assume that Mitt is doing what he always does: acting on the basis of a careful cost-benefit analysis. Will’s comments on this were spot on: “The cost of not releasing the returns are clear,” he said. “Therefore, [Romney] must have calculated that there are higher costs in releasing them.” But what information could the earlier tax returns contain that would be so damaging if it were brought out into the open? Obviously, we are entering the realm of speculation, but Romney has invited it. Here are four possibilities:
1. Extremely high levels of income…..
2. More offshore accounts….
3. Politically explosive investments….
4. A very, very low tax rate….
….as Matthew Dowd noted, “there’s obviously something there, because if there was nothing there, he would say, ‘Have at it’”.
Bill Keller (NYT): On the subject of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare, to reclaim the name critics have made into a slur — a number of fallacies seem to be congealing into accepted wisdom. Much of this is the result of unrelenting Republican propaganda and right-wing punditry, but it has gone largely unchallenged by gun-shy Democrats. The result is that voters are confronted with slogans and side issues — “It’s a tax!” “No, it’s a penalty!” — rather than a reality-based discussion. Let’s unpack a few of the most persistent myths.
OBAMACARE IS A JOB-KILLER. …After years of trying out various alarmist falsehoods the Republicans have found one that seems, judging from the polls, to have connected with the fears of voters…..
OBAMACARE IS A FEDERAL TAKEOVER OF HEALTH INSURANCE. Let’s be blunt. The word for that is “lie.”…..
THE UNFETTERED MARKETPLACE IS A BETTER SOLUTION. To the extent there is a profound difference of principle anywhere in this debate, it lies here…..
LEAVE IT TO THE STATES. THEY’LL FIX IT. The Republican alternative to Obamacare consists in large part of letting each state do its own thing. Presumably the best ideas will go viral…..
OBAMACARE IS A LOSER. RUN AGAINST IT, RUN FROM IT, BUT FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE DON’T RUN ON IT. …Unfortunately, the benefits of Obamacare do not go wide until 2014, so there are not yet testimonials from enthusiastic, family-next-door beneficiaries. This helps explain why the bill has not won more popular affection. (It also explains why the Republicans are so desperate to kill it now, before Americans feel the abundant rewards.)
…. If the Obama campaign needs a snappy one-liner, it could borrow this one from David Cutler: “Never before in history has a candidate run for president with the idea that too many people have insurance coverage.”
You can see video of the President’s Iowa speech here
Steve Benen: I was surprised to learn two weeks ago that federal firefighters, including many combating brutal wildfires in Colorado, are considered temporary employees who are ineligible for health care coverage through the Forest Service. They’re working incredibly dangerous jobs under life-threatening conditions, but many go without insurance.
President Obama is poised to change that. The Denver Post reported yesterday on a shift in administration policy:
President Barack Obama has directed federal officials to offer seasonal firefighters the option of purchasing federal health insurance coverage…On a recent trip to Colorado Springs, the president was apparently moved by the men and women firefighters he met, senior administration officials said in an interview Tuesday. When he returned to Washington, he told his cabinet that he wanted to “find a solution” for the hundreds of workers toiling in dangerous conditions without the option to buy in to federal insurance.
….it appears to be a huge step forward…. Whatever the mechanism, the access to health insurance for these firefighters will begin later this month….
NYT Editorial: Paying taxes forthrightly has long been a matter of civic pride for most American politicians, a demonstration of honesty and of a willingness to share in society’s burdens. Since the Watergate era, presidential candidates have released several years of tax returns, allowing voters to peer at their financial choices and discern their entanglements.
Mitt Romney has upended that tradition this year. He has released only one complete tax return, for 2010, along with an unfinished estimate of his 2011 taxes. What information he did release provides a fuzzy glimpse at a concerted effort to park much of his wealth in overseas tax shelters, suggesting a widespread pattern of tax avoidance unlike that of any previous candidate.
Mr. Romney has resisted all demands for more disclosure, leading to growing criticism from Democrats that he is trying to hide his fortune and his tax schemes from the public. Given the troubling suspicions about his finances, he needs to release many more returns and quickly open his books to full scrutiny.
Jonathan Chait: Michael Gerson is a former speechwriter for George W. Bush turned Washington Post columnist, from which perch he has spent the entirety of the Obama administration gleefully predicting a downward spiral into ruin and dysfunction reminiscent of, well, George W. Bush. Having possibly run low on Obama tragic failure scenarios, Gerson devotes today’s column to musing about why Obama has not proposed any major new initiative to address the economic crisis.
Gerson begins by arguing that Obama is declining to propose any major plans because he does not want to admit failure …. But wait! Through diligent research — I have hired a team of laid-off Bush-era Middle East intelligence veterans just for this research task — we have scoured the public record and uncovered a startling fact: Obama does have an ambitious new set of policy proposals!
He unveiled it in a nationally televised address last fall, after which point he has been touring the country and touting it daily….
…. I’m sure once he has become aware that all his objections about Obama are false — that Obama is not denying the crisis, that he does have a plan to address it, that Keyensian economists do support the plan, and it won’t increase the long-term deficit — surely he will change his mind on this.
TPM: A central element of the 2012 campaign cycle has become just when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital. The Romney campaign says he left in early 1999 — in time to get him off the hook for some controversial investments. Factcheck.org backs up Mitt while David Corn and the Obama campaign have brought forward numerous pieces of documentary evidence indicating he didn’t leave until a couple years later.
Now here’s even more evidence that he didn’t leave in 1999 as he now claims.
….I’ve found yet more instances where Romney made declarations to the SEC that he was still involved in running Bain after February 1999. To the best of my knowledge, no one has yet noted these.
Matt Miller (Washington Post): The House is voting (again) to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, six Republican governors (so far) say they won’t go along with the law’s planned Medicaid expansion for 4 million uninsured people in their states, even though the feds would pick up nearly all the tab.
See the pattern here?
The Republican message to uninsured Americans in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling couldn’t be clearer: You’re on your own.
…. Fifty million uninsured Americans would be the immediate casualties of the GOP’s “let them eat the emergency room” mentality. But all of us would be at risk. In America — alone among wealthy nations — everyone is a pink slip or job change or new illness away from finding they’ve lost coverage or are uninsurable.
This is the shameful reality behind the GOP’s rhetoric on health care. Republicans don’t want to spend a penny to insure the uninsured.
2:15: President Obama will meet in the Oval Office with Democratic congressional leaders “to discuss their legislative agenda for the coming months and his proposals to provide small businesses new incentives to grow and hire, encourage companies to create jobs here at home, and ensure that middle class families don’t see a massive tax hike at the end of the year,” the White House said.
Attendees include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. Jim Clyburn, Rep. Steve Israel, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen.