In this small city about an hour from Manhattan, pregnant teenagers, laid-off professionals and day laborers without insurance receive care at a community health center that has been part of the social fabric here for nearly four decades.
Because of the sweeping federal health care law passed two years ago, the center, part of the Hudson River HealthCare network, received a $4.5 million grant last month to expand. It plans to add six more medical and seven more dental exam rooms, allowing it to see as many as 5,000 additional patients, many of whom are without insurance, on Medicaid or have limited coverage. An additional 730 community centers or so like it are to be renovated or built across the country in the next two years for patients like that.Unless the Supreme Court says otherwise.
And you'd better believe Republicans will take health care away from millions to give tax cuts to Mitt Romney and his friends.
Critics of the law, particularly Congressional Republicans, argue that much of the spending already allocated and authorized is wasteful. They have been particularly concerned over the Prevention and Public Health Fund, whose funds have already been cut by a third as lawmakers sought to find money for other programs.“Instead of helping Americans prevent health problems, the president’s new law actually uses this so-called prevention fund as a Washington slush fund,” Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, said last month.
Barrasso is calling the Hudson River HealthCare network liars and a slush fund. Of course, he gets free health care being a Senator. Do you?
As a result, people like Linda Ellis, 64, are now insured. Ms. Ellis could not find a private insurance company to cover her when she lost her employer-sponsored plan after being laid off. Her husband is already enrolled in the federal Medicare program, so she had to try to find coverage on her own. She was not eligible for the state Medicaid program. Because of a shoulder condition and minor ailments like sinusitis, no one would offer her a policy when she scrambled to find coverage.“People don’t realize you can get rejected in the private market even if it’s not life-threatening,” said Ms. Ellis, who now pays $428 a month for insurance from a federally financed state program in Ohio. Ms. Ellis had contacted Families USA, a consumer advocacy group that provided her contact information to The New York Times.But Ms. Ellis said she had no idea whether she would continue to be covered if the Supreme Court declared the entire law unconstitutional. When she asked the office of her United States senator, she was told no one could say, and federal officials declined to comment on what might happen to any program now financed under the law. “Obviously I’m concerned,” she said.
She should be. Five guys with free health care for the rest of their lives could take affordable health coverage from people like Linda here as early as Monday. Folks, the Affordable Care Act is doing good things now and I damn well bet it's doing good things for some of the people who are reading this right now. All that could vanish next week. Doesn't that bother anyone?