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April 16, 2024

Del Monte speaks on future of health care

By TONY WU | November 8, 2012

Health Leads, an organization led by college students to connect low-income families to health insurance, food and shelter, invited Mark Del Monte, the lead attorney for the American Academy of Pediatrics, to speak about the possible implications Obama’s reelection will have on the state of healthcare in the U.S.

With President Obama’s re-election still fresh in the public mind, one important question remains unanswered: What will health care look like now that Obama is to lead the country for another four years?

The organization for which Del Monte works played an instrumental role in urging the passage of the Affordable Care Act, something done during Obama’s first term.

During Obama’s presidency, this monumental reform in health care was initiated and eventually passed.

Commonly called “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act aims to promote universal health care in our country.  Universal health care, however,  is not a novel idea.

In fact, President Clinton sought to accomplish the same goal in 1993. Del Monte noted that it took the United States almost twenty years to rebuild the political will for a major overhaul of the healthcare system and the future of universal healthcare is auspicious thanks to Obama’s reelection.

With his victory, the Republican party may eventually dial down their heated disapproval of the legislation and seek compromises. Republican leaders have already shown willingness to accept universal healthcare as a fundamental ideology of our country.

Del Monte suggested the audience to read the newspaper in search of new “doors” that are being open by bipartisan compromises in the next few months.

To clarify the intricate details of the Affordable Care Act, it is important to understand the overarching ideas in Obama’s plan. A fundamental component of the Act requires all health insurance companies to include a standardized form that provides scenarios under which coverage does or does not apply. In addition, companies are required to include terms used in health insurance and their corresponding definitions. The Act also specifies the procedure under which the public will be enrolled in health insurance.

Within each state, Del Monte predicted the establishment of joint offices that handle the health insurance application process for a more seamless transition for people without insurance. Currently, when one applies for health insurance, forms that indicate income and pre-existing conditions must  be completed. The federal bureaucracy then takes the provided information and categorizes each person into different socioeconomic classes. These classes are mainly based on income. “Roughly, these levels are defined as the following: at 0 percent poverty level, the person is enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP for children; at 100 percent poverty level, they are on the next rung of the ladder; at 200 percent, 300 percent, 400 percent, they just keep climbing the ladder” Del Monte explained.

While there has been a high approval rate for the content of the Act, the constitutionality of the law still remains to be discussed. People who oppose the legislation claim that the law violates the Bill of Rights under which the government cannot mandate individuals to purchase a certain product. Since health care is a service, the federal government cannot pass a law that forces people to buy insurance. The same argument resonated with others who fear big government which provided momentum for the rise of the Tea Party movement.

Though the plan is fairly detailed, there are still some uncertainties about the Act. The first concern is the establishment of exchange offices. Ideally, in these offices, the petitioners fill out the required forms for health insurance and enroll in different social safety nets as needed such as Medicaid or food stamps. When asked about the prospects of the establishments of these offices, Del Monte stated that “the offices are like a unicorn; you know what they are supposed to look like but you have never seen one”. He suggested that these offices are ideologically appealing, but the practicality of conjoining the efforts of multiple government branches to establish such a vast, multifaceted service may be far-fetched, and thus may only come to fruition in the future.

There are many other potential problems within universal health care, but, “you just have to look at the direction at which the country is taking...these plans are supposed to help people, as long as these plans help the poor and the children, we are in the right direction,” says Del Monte.

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