I am writing in response to an article on the July 3 Opinion page titled "Repeal heath care reform." This article is overstated and thus erroneous.
It reflects the "don't tread on me" mentality that served this country well during the American revolutionary period but now only serves to further polarize this country and victimizes the truth as well as a significant portion of the population in need of affordable health care.
Allow me to cite some information from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research and policy institute that evaluates federal and state fiscal policies and public programs.
A Congressional Budget Office analysis indicates that between 2014 and 2022 the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion will add just 2.8 percent to what states would have spent on Medicaid in the absence of health care reform. This is while providing health coverage to 17 million more low-income adults and children.
This 2.8 percent figure overstates the net impact on state budgets because it does not reflect the savings that state and local governments will realize in health care costs for the uninsured. The CBO estimates that the federal government will bear nearly 93 percent of the costs of the Medicaid expansion over the first nine years.
In short, the Medicaid expansion will significantly increase coverage at a modest cost to state Medicaid programs, and it will lower state costs for providing care for the uninsured.
These conclusions are supported by the experience of Massachusetts, which enacted legislation in 2006 under then Gov. Mitt Romney with core elements very similar to the Affordable Care Act. It, in essence, provided nearly universal health care coverage and had an individual mandate requiring individuals to obtain coverage.
In 2008, the first full year of implementation of the "health safety net," payments were $252 million or 38 percent less than the previous year's "uncompensated care pool" payments.
This reduction in costs coincided with a decline in the share of uninsured residents from 5.7 percent in 2007 to 2.7 percent in 2009. Romney's own state has demonstrated that this type of expanded health coverage works.
As a physician, I have worked helping to deliver health care in a variety of settings from charity institutions and free clinics to private and university hospitals during the last 49 years. I have seen the inequality in care that medicine as it is funded in this country produces. I have read the public health care data that shows how we lag behind other first world countries in the delivery of preventive health care and in the areas of maternal-child health. It is time we stopped being an embarrassment to ourselves.
Oliver Terry Andrew, M.D.