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It’s time to support health care exchanges

Published 8:13am Monday, July 16, 2012 Updated 12:15pm Monday, July 16, 2012

Many Republicans and Democrats agree that health care exchanges make sense. Even GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s leading advisors support the exchange model.

Others, however, strongly disagree.

Once launched, the state-by-state health exchanges will allow consumers and small businesses the opportunity to compare prices and shop for health insurance coverage. Count me in on those who support the concept.

“Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it’s time for Minnesota’s Republican legislative majority to take care of some important unfinished business,” said the Minneapolis Star Tribune in its July 8 editorial.

The ACA encourages states to build their own health care coverage exchanges.

States are required to submit their detailed plans by mid-November of this year. Otherwise, if the ACA (also referred to as ObamaCare) is not overturned, the federal government will step in and initiate its own plan for individual states.

According to political analysts, there’s no way the ACA will be overturned this year. There are enough votes to overturn ACA in the U.S. House, but not in the U.S. Senate.

This could change for 2013, however, if more Republican senators are elected this coming fall.

“A Minnesota-made exchange is a chance to build on the state’s historic strength in providing quality health care and controlling costs,” said the Star Tribune. “That’s a key reason why organizations such as the Minnesota Medical Association, Minnesota Business Partnership and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce support a state-tailored effort.”

Americans, including me, overwhelmingly (as evidenced by public opinion polls) support the provision in ACA which allows dependent coverage until age 26.

We also support the provision preventing insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, or dropping policyholders when they get sick.

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said repeal of ACA would mean paying more for preventive care.

Under the law, 54 million people with private health insurance, including one million people in Minnesota, can now get free preventive care such as vaccinations, checkups and cancer screenings.

She said that repeal would mean that hundreds of dollars in savings a year could disappear.

“Repeal would also take us back to the days when insurance companies were not accountable to anyone,” said Sebelius. “With the new health law, your insurance company now generally has to spend at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on health care and quality improvements, not on CEO salaries or advertising.

If it doesn’t, you get a rebate. This summer, 56,000 Minnesota families with private insurance will benefit from an average of $160 in rebates from insurance companies as a result of this new provision.”

I agree that, instead of talking about repeal, we should make the law work the way we all want it to work.

Republicans had an opportunity to address health care, including six years from 2001 to 2006, when they held the presidency and majorities in both houses. No major federal health care legislation was passed.

Today it’s time for both parties to work together to fine-tune the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Keep what’s good and repeal what’s not in the best interests of all Americans.

Tom Hintgen writes a weekly column for The Journal.

  • Swede

    Tom, are you currently unable to compare prices and shop for health insurance coverage?

    Allow me to recommend the Yellow Pages.

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