Friday, January 13, 2017
With change always comes uncertainty. There are many political issues as stake in 2017, but one of the biggest is the fate of the Affordable Care Act. At the moment, Republicans are lobbying to repeal the Act originally passed in 2010. This past week, the U.S. Senate passed a budget blueprint, which was the first step in a possible repeal. This blueprint paves the way for repealing or revising certain portions of the law. The new administration has also vowed to make significant changes to the Affordable Care act through both executive power and legislative actions.
At this point, it is very hard to say what affect these changes will have on healthcare professionals and healthcare consumers. Of course, the major concern is loss of insurance coverage to those who depend on the federal exchanges and subsidies. Also largely at stake are early components of the Act, which allowed students to stay on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26 and most importantly blocked insurance companies from refusing to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.
There are a few other portions of the law that many have come to rely upon, but others no little about. These include:
1. Calorie counts – Restaurants with 20 or more buildings are required to post the caloric content of food on their menus.
2. Breast feeding rights – The Affordable Care Act requires organizations to provide several accommodations to mothers who are breast-feeding and also includes insurance coverage of certain equipment.
3. Community Needs Assessments – Nonprofits healthcare organizations are required to perform community needs assessments every three years.
4. Habilitative Care – In the past certain therapies were only covered by insurance for rehabilitative purposes (e.g., stroke or injury related). The Affordable Care Act included coverage for habilitative therapy (e.g., speech therapy for a child born with autism).
5. Prescription Drug Costs – the Affordable Care Act included better coverage for prescription drugs through Medicare.
Other issues at stake include an increase in the federal deficit if individuals can opt out of purchasing health insurance. Without the young and healthy to fund healthcare for the elderly and ill, the federal government will need to pick up the added cost. In addition, it is unknown if states who expanded their Medicaid programs will opt to continue to offer coverage to those who no longer qualify.
Obviously, 2017 might prove to be as interesting as 2016. Let’s hope the focus is on autonomy and utilitarianism. Provide the greatest good to the greatest number of people while protecting the rights of our citizens. It’s a large task.
Provided by Valerie Connor, MA,CCC-SLP; MS CHES. Adjunct Faculty, Saint Joseph's College
Posted by Twila Weiszbrod at 1:30 PM