Regardless of your political leanings, it is fair to say that there is a general confusion in the air these days. Most us are not entirely sure which way this country is heading or what any of this will mean in the long term and as each days passes, this feeling of confusion seems to be growing.
One of the main points of confusion and distress for many Americans is what repealing the Affordable Care Act will mean for them. There are currently 18 million Americans who would possibly be uninsured if the Trump Administration continues with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and after having the security of insurance for a few years, going back to not having access to affordable health care is enough to put anyone on edge.
Proponents of repealing the Affordable Care Act say that the system was an abysmal failure. It did nothing but raise the premiums of most health insurance plans, while allowing insurance companies to cover less, due to the lack of competition from government mandates. They feel that the government forcing its citizens to buy products in the private sector is an egregious misuse of power and unconstitutional. And they feel that we just currently can’t afford such a program in this country. They believe that with the national deficit skyrocketing, spending so much money on public insurance programs is just not wise.
While I will admit that the Affordable Care Act was not perfect by any means, repealing the Affordable Care Act, without a viable option to replace it, will result in the suffering of the people who are most disenfranchised and who are most in need of health care. Unfortunately, in this particular case, these people are the poor and those who are afflicted with addiction. Two groups that at pretty much every turn of policy in the past 50 years have suffered needlessly.
Before the Affordable Care Act, many addicts and alcoholics were unable to get the treatment they needed because they were either without health insurance or the insurance they could afford did not cover mental health treatment. This meant that many were left with only state run programs which are tremendously underfunded and unable to service all of the people who need help, or they were forced to check themselves into hospital psychiatric units where they could incur huge bills that they could never pay and not actually get the personalized care they needed.
So if the Affordable Care Act is repealed and a new program is not put in place, this will mean that millions of addicts around the country will be left without insurance and so when they decide that they need to seek treatment, their ability to do so will be limited. Not only this but if they are lucky enough to be able to get private insurance, they will have to pay incredibly high monthly premiums, and while it is not entirely clear at this point, these premiums will probably increase if the repeal goes through.
However, there are some silver linings to this issue and one of the last acts the Obama Administration did before leaving office was to solidify some of the more important issues that the Affordable Care Act dealt with. For instance it is does not appear that pre-existing conditions will come back into play as a means to deny someone insurance and through the 21st Century Cures Act, Congress made it a law that insurance companies have to offer mental health services with their insurance policies. While these things seem to bode well for addicts and alcoholics, and overall are positive, if people are unable to afford insurance then they are meaningless.
For what it’s worth and without getting too political, I think it is important that we take a step back here and really think about what we are doing. It is sometimes difficult in the fervor of the day to not get caught up in the heightened emotion and rhetoric that gets thrown around. It is easy to lose sight of what we are discussing as we politicize everything, but at the end of the day, what repealing the Affordable Care Act is really about, is whether or not people deserve access to proper health care. It is the heart of the issue and it gets overshadowed by the egotistical menace that is politics.
We want to argue around the issue at hand, but the matter is truly do we believe that all people regardless of socio-economic background are worthy of having health insurance? If we believe they are, then programs like the Affordable Care Act are important, and if we don’t… well then that’s another matter entirely
Our politicians do not seem to understand this and they only want to argue over who can do it better. The Republicans believe they have the answers, while the Democrats believe their answers are correct and all the while those that are truly hurt by this divisiveness and in fighting will continue to die and continue to wind up in jail for lack of a better option.
Where we go from here, or even what all of this will means for the poor and the addicted is hard to say. We in many ways stand on the precipice of change and what direction that change takes can be guided by the people; if they allow their voice to be heard. So whatever your stance is on this matter, voice it. As a person in recovery or as a person currently suffering from addiction, let your voice be heard and participate in the dialogue of democracy. Otherwise, changes will occur that do not benefit you and in the long run, addicts will continue to be marginalized.