For most Americans, when it comes to the Affordable Care Act, the proof is in the pudding: Will it make health care more affordable? Will it save me money?
Here's a number: $2.1 billion. That's the amount saved in 2012 by consumers because of two provisions of the ACA, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That's money in the pocketbook for millions of Americans, and it supports the notion that insurance premiums can be better managed.
The closest real-world example to the Affordable Care Act is the health reform plan implemented in Massachusetts in 2006. Even though the ACA has a 50-state focus, the plans are very much alike. To get an idea of how the ACA might work, it's useful to look at the Massachusetts experiment.
In last night's presidential debate, both candidates traded arguments about an advisory group called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which will be created to make recommendations about reducing the growth of Medicare spending.
The board, which would be seated in 2013, is one of a number of provisions in the Affordable Care Act designed to extend the solvency of Medicare from 2016 to 2024.
The second part of Bob Semro's interview on the Affordable Care Act and Medicare aired on KGNU Radio yesterday morning. You can stream or download the interview here. Bob's interview begins at 10:16, and runs for approximately seven minutes.
The latest debate over the Affordable Care Act is whether the new law cuts Medicare funding by more than $700 billion and then uses the money from those cuts to cover the cost of reforms that have nothing to do with American seniors. The implication is that the ACA will hurt Medicare without offering anything in return. The debate has received a great deal of attention because Medicare is a very popular program, not just with seniors but with most Americans.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid eligibility will be expanded to all U.S. citizens under the age of 65 with incomes less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level beginning in 2014 – unless some states decide to opt out of the expansion. That possibility arose as a result of the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA.
Some governors have already announced their intention to drop out, citing budget concerns but also partly for political reasons. Colorado and many others states will make their decisions after getting cost estimates.
From the beginning, there was little doubt that one of the Affordable Care Act's most important provisions would end up in the Supreme Court. That section of the law, known as the "minimum coverage provision," or "individual mandate," would require most American citizens and legal residents to purchase a minimum level of health insurance coverage from a private insurer or pay a tax penalty.