Why health reform will not be repealed

It’s pretty simple, really.

Once people gain actual real-life experience with a government program, they abandon their fear of the unknown, see its benefits more clearly, and become invested in its future.

We’ve seen that with Medicare, which consistently pleases its beneficiaries. Part D has similar traction, and now we’ve learned that the citizens of Massachusetts are increasingly happy with that state’s health reform.

I’m not arguing that Massachusetts, Part D or even Medicare itself are perfect, or anywhere close to that goal. That’s not the point of this post. The point is, the GOP’s continued abuse of anyone and anything remotely supportive of the ACA ignores history; once people experience a program, they like it – and more to the point, do NOT like politicians who threaten its existence.

A poll released by the Harvard’s School of Public Health and the Boston Globe indicates strong support for the state’s reform – 63% of residents polled supported the program, a jump of ten points from 2009; 21% – about one in five – oppose Mass’ reform.

The key here is the ten point increase in two years.

While major provisions of ACA will not be implemented for another two-and-a-half years, many have already seen a direct and personal impact. Dependents are covered till age 26. Lifetime maximum limits were eliminated. Kids with pre-existing conditions can now get coverage. Benefits for preventive care and screening have been greatly improved. Part D beneficiaries’ costs have been lowered and benefits improved. Some people previously uninsurable due to pre-existing conditions have obtained coverage.

When reform becomes broadly implemented – in thirty months – the premium subsidies for small employers kick in. Same for lower-income individuals and families. And the list goes on.

This is both a blessing and a curse. The more people know about a program, the better equipped they are to understand it and discuss it – and consider it when voting.

But, the more benefits they see, the harder it is for policy makers to convince voters the program needs to change. That’s where we are with Medicare, with Part D, with every entitlement program.

What does this mean for you?

Reform is here to stay.

Joseph Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates, and blogs at Managed Care Matters.

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