Jun 28, 2012

Health care law survives largely unscathed - unbelievable but true!

I'm still waiting for the news to sink in. The Supreme Court has upheld the controversial Affordable Care Act.

"ObamaCare" promises to be a focal point of the November presidential elections. But more importantly, it allows the goverment to continue implementing the health care law leading up to 2014, when the law fully takes effect.

It was a close call. A 5-4 ruling. The most controversial provision of the law- the individual mandate- was deemed by the Court as constitutional.

The ruling preserves key child health provisions, including the law's protections against pre-existing condition exclusions.

I think back to the time that I met a family who had lost health insurance coverage because the mother lost her job. The family stretched their resources to buy expensive continuation coverage. The parents faced the painstaking task of deciding which family members to buy insurance for. In the end the family chose to continue coverage for their two little girls with congenital heart disease. The father, a small business owner, could not afford to purchase health insurance for himself.

When I met this family in my clinic, they were crumpling under the stress of high out-of-pocket medical costs and the fear of what would happen if the father had a medical catastrophe.

No family should face such a decision.

Improving access to affordable and stable health care for everyone should never have been a partisan issue in the first place. But given just how polarizing the issue turned out to be, all I can say is - it's about time.

- Ulfat Shaikh

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