Health Care Raises the Stakes in 2012

by Brian Washington

Thirty-two million people—including uninsured children and families—will benefit from President Obama’s historic health care legislation by the time it is fully implemented. That broad impact—in addition to other groundbreaking aspects of the law—gives reason for educators to pay close attention to attempts to block or repeal one of the President’s signature legislative achievements.

Lisa Wintner, an English as a Second Language teacher in Calabasas, Calif., knows that educators understand first-hand the importance of making sure children and their families have adequate health care.

“Students whose basic health needs are neglected because of financial need are at a strong disadvantage in the classroom,” said Wintner.

President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides a safety net for lower income and middle class families struggling to make ends meet with several key provisions:

  • Children and adults who have been uninsured for more than six months due to a pre-existing condition have access to coverage.  
  • Young people can stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26.  Since September 2010, about 2.5 million newly insured young adults have obtained coverage through their parents’ health insurance.
  • The ACA will eventually eliminate annual dollar limits on essential benefits, including hospitalization and prescription drugs.
  • The plan also carries discounts on brand-name prescription drugs and cost-free preventive care for tens of millions on Medicare. Since August, more than 18.9 million people on Medicare have received one or more free preventive services, including breast cancer and colorectal screenings.  

However, the gains made under President Obama’s health care law are under attack by the same politicians who want to silence the voices of educators and raise taxes on the middle class while extending huge tax cuts to the rich.   

Some governors—despite the needs of those struggling to get coverage in their states—have even refused federal dollars to help implement expanded health care coverage under the ACA. Florida Gov. Rick Scott gave back $2 million in federal funds, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker refused a “consumer assistance” grant that would have provided the state with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Between January and early November this year, 44 states filed more than 200 measures opposing elements of the ACA or proposing modifications to it—modifications many health care advocates say would hurt children and families.

Twenty-five states are suing the federal government to block implementation of the President’s plan.  The U.S. Supreme Court—led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts—is expected to issue a ruling on the case next year, in the middle of the 2012 election cycle. The ACA also faces several appellate court challenges

Meanwhile, the leading Republican presidential candidates have all expressed some level of opposition to the ACA. Click here to view where the candidates stand on health care and other issues important to educators.

The stakes during this election cycle could not be higher.  Stay informed.  Sign up for Education Votes and get regular updates on health care and the 2012 Presidential race.

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