Health Reform Gets Started; GOP Makes "Pledge" to Stop It

September 23, 2010

Happy birthday Affordable Care Act - you are now six months old. Too bad Republicans want to repeal you so you never see your first birthday. Party poopers.

Happy birthday Affordable Care Act - you are now six months old. Too bad Republicans want to repeal you so you never see your first birthday. Party poopers.

Yes, today marks a big day in the life of the healthcare legislation as a slew of new rules and regulations are rolled out for millions of Americans, just in time for open enrollment at many places of employment. Starting today, young people can remain on their parents' workplace insurance until they turn 26, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied coverage by insurance, and lifetime limits on coverage - those are now a thing of the past.

(You can get a full run-down of all the Affordable Care Act provisions taking effect here, thanks to CNN.)

Back in February, we helped you prepare for your new patients through the reform legislation, so now is a good time to revisit those tips as more coverage for Americans is on the way if you haven't already taken steps with your practice.

But while the race to better healthcare in America starts, Republicans hope to put up a big "Stop" sign right in the middle of the track, with the announcement of their "Pledge to America," a 21-page outline of their vision for the country if they take power of Congress following November's elections.

Think of it as then-candidate Barack Obama's "Blueprint for Change," but five times per page mentioning how badly now-President Barack Obama has done running the country.

Among the calls for change by the GOP is to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, or as the Republicans are calling it, "the Government Takeover of Health Care," a name for the bill I'm sure was shot down in the early stages by Democrats.

The "Pledge" batters the Obama Administration for health reform that promised jobs, lower costs, better care for seniors, and a pledge not to raise taxes on the middle-class, but delivered none of those promises. The document also calls for the immediate repeal of the Affordable Care Act, enacting medical liability reform, expanding the use of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the ability to sell health insurance across state lines.

If some of these themes seem familiar, Google "Republican health reform 2009," and you will see that these are among the parts of the Affordable Care Act that Republicans did not get included in the final bill.

Another bullet point change from the "Pledge" reads as such:

"Strengthen the Doctor-Patient Relationship: We will repeal President Obama's government takeover of health care and replace it with common-sense reforms focused on strengthening the doctor-patient relationship."

Nope. No more details. That's it. No explanations of what "common-sense reforms" will be enacted, but just a promise to strengthen those bonds. How? Stay tuned.

Now it took several years, if not decades in the opinion of some, to get health reform in America and we are six months in. In most jobs, that would be the time for your first review, to gauge your progress, and decide what improvements are needed to make you more productive.

Republicans are delivering a message to the Affordable Care Act that - echoing the immortal words of Donald Trump - "You're Fired." Sorry Affordable Care Act, it's us, not you, is what the Republicans are essentially saying. But really, like most break-ups, it's really you.

Republicans never liked the Affordable Care Act and are not willing to give it the time it needs to either succeed or fail. They have decided it is a failure and pending Congressional takeover later this year, will make it a thing of the past, replacing it with their own legislation.
Physicians, and millions more Americans, have already started acclimating themselves to the new reform, and yes, opinions are mixed on how it will change healthcare. Some like it, others hate it and think it will spell the end for primary care and solo practices.

But if the Republican's eventual reform plan is to enact the things they didn't get the first time and remain vague as their plans to "strengthen the doctor-patient relationship," I'll stick with what we have now, thank you very much - at least it is going forward, which in Washington, D.C., is pretty much half the battle.