The promise of the Affordable Care Act is to make sure the uninsured have a basic level of health insurance. In Alabama, that uninsured figure is equal to a number 5 times more than Birmingham’s population.
Universal coverage just makes sense. Everyone, at one time or the other, will need health care. Many times, however, the uninsured put off treatment until a crisis forces a trip to the emergency room, where the costs are three and four times higher.
The Affordable Care Act’s health-insurance mandate seeks to correct that unworkable and expensive method. Create a system where more of Alabama’s uninsured 16 percent have coverage and the costs of health care are more evenly and fairly distributed.
Wait just a minute, says Alabama and the 25 other states suing to halt what many detractors call Obamacare. This is about freedom. Somebody apparently must preserve the “freedom” for the uninsured sick to lose all their possessions in order to care for a loved one.
We imagine those detractors might balk at our characterization. And on this they are technically correct. The nation’s health-care system, such as it is, is about more than the uninsured. Almost half of Alabamians are covered through employer-based insurance, a system that creates uncertainty for workers looking to change jobs (or even hold on to the one they have.)
So, it can be said Alabama is arguing to (a.) take away the promise of health insurance from 16 percent of its residents and (b.) leave in place an undesirable status quo for another 49 percent. For the record, another 31 percent depend on Medicare, Medicaid or other government programs. The final 3 percent purchase insurance individually.
The Supreme Court is hearing arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act over the first three days of this week. In a press release, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange called the case “critically important.”
He goes on to say, “If Obamacare is upheld, then it would put us on a path where Congress could regulate each and every phase of our lives. That may be President Obama’s view of the federal government’s power under the Constitution. But it was not the Founders’ view, and it is not the view of the freedom-loving people I am proud to serve.”
We acknowledge Strange’s remarks as part of the Republican position of opposing practically anything Obama proposes (even if the idea, as in the case of the Affordable Care Act, came from a right-wing think-tank). However, we wonder why they keeping dragging the good name of the Founding Fathers into this debate.
We have no way of knowing if they would go to such lengths to deny health insurance to so many Americans.