Supporters of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act celebrated as the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold a milestone of the Obama presidency.
This long overdue, common sense legislation has already benefited millions of Americans and will assist more as the Act’s provisions continue to go into effect.
One group that felt the apocalypse was upon them: the conservative right. I love the initial image Fox News posted on its site after the Supreme Court’s announcement:
It “survives,” like a zombie you can’t kill. Watching the network’s early coverage was like watching the final moments of the film Miracle Mile.
The word of the hour from conservative commentators this morning was “taxes.” Why celebrate a huge step forward for the nation, including continued coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, when we can launch our latest round of scare tactics?
Fox and other extreme right-wingers claim that middle class Americans are going to see a destructive increase in taxes due to the upholding of the reform Act. Their responses to how much and when were about as vague as Mitt Romney answering a question on… well, just about anything.
There are tax increases, some of which may not even apply to the middle class. Let’s take a look at some of the increases:
- Medicare payroll tax increase of 0.9% for incomes of families that exceed $250,000 and individuals over $200,000 (takes effect in 2013).
- New Medicare tax on unearned income (dividends, royalties and interest earned) of 3.8% for single taxpayers whose income exceeds $200,000 and families that earn more than $250,000.
- If your medical fees surpass 7.5% of your adjusted gross income, you are currently allowed to deduct any amount above 7.5%. Next year, you will only be allowed to deduct the amount above 10% of your adjusted gross income (this is does not apply to individuals that are 65 and older for 2013 through 2016).
- Tanning Tax (which has been in effect since 2010) increase of 10% on cost of indoor tanning.
Essentially, if you are making over $200,000 a year you will likely see an increase as soon as next year.
Of course, let’s not forget the mandate itself. If you already have insurance through your job or by other means, this does not apply to you. The mandate also does not apply to individuals whose income is $9,350 or couples at $18,700.
The annual fee for not following the mandate (which begins in 2014), will see an increase in the years after its inception:
- 2014: 1% of adjusted income
- 2015: 2% of adjusted income
- 2016: 2.5% of adjusted income
Criminal penalties will not apply to those who refuse to get coverage. Page 336 from the Act itself reads: “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.”
If you missed President Obama’s comments earlier on the Supreme Court’s decision (you must have been reading this site, I understand), I just want to highlight some of the positive points of this legislation that he reiterated today:
- Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive.
- Insurers can no longer turn down children with pre-existing conditions (this provision applies to adults in 2014).
- Insurers can no longer drop your coverage due to serious illness, nor can they raise your rates without explanation.
- Free preventative care such as check-ups and mammograms
- Rebates for 13 million Americans from their insurance company because it spent too much on administrative costs and/or CEO bonuses
- Young adults can remain on their children’s insurance until the age of 26.
- Seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs.
Of course, these are not all of the great provisions we are going to have access due to the Affordable Care Act; this is just a sampling.
Today was a great day in politics that saw a conservative judge break away from the insanity of modern-day politics to serve the American people, millions of people keep their health insurance and maintain the country’s growth into a better and stronger healthcare system.
President Obama also said today when responding to the Supreme Court’s decision:
“”I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.”
I know I’ll be sleeping easier tonight, as will millions of other Americans.
While I am guardedly glad about the ruling, I am not so sure that it should be celebrated as much as it is. The “tax” is meaningless if there is no sanction for not paying it and people can continue to refuse to get coverage and simply throw the “tax” bill in the nearest basket. The striking down of the forced expansion of Medicaid provision is also something that can ultimately cause the projected numbers for funding to be so far off as to cause the system to fail. And I would not put it past the GOP administrations in those 26 states to allow their populations to die without health care simply to promote their partisan agenda. Time will tell what happens.
I am glad about the ruling as well, Walt. I would still like to see a push further towards universal healthcare, but this Act is a good start in the right direction (that has been long overdue). I’ve read Florida is officially opting out of the medicaid expansion while other Republican governors are considering doing the same. To opt out of a program (Medicaid expansion) that the government covers the cost of until 2017 is insane to me (especially considering this program directly affects the health of your state’s citizens). I don’t believe the states withdrawal from the expansion will be enough to offset the costs of reform, if anything it may save the government money from not covering their costs. Even after 2017, the states would only contribute up to 10% of the costs of the expansion.