Community, Political Activist Blasts ‘Obamacare’ Op-Ed

April 5, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By Jonathan V. Yedin

Congressman Grimm, in a recent editorial, indiscriminately criticized the Affordable Care Act by alleging that five of the bill’s key components amounted to “broken promises.”

Since running for office, Michael Grimm has made it no secret that he is strongly against providing affordable health care to all Americans, and he has expressed this opposition in a number of ways, but none have been so crudely assembled and altogether inaccurate as the talking points he relied upon in the aforementioned op-ed.

Promise #1: If you like your plan, you can keep it. The Affordable Care Act actually extends coverage for many Americans. Young people without coverage can remain covered by their parents’ insurance until they turn 26. Additionally, individuals who get sick will not have to worry about getting kicked off their health plan just because the insurance company doesn’t want to pay for their care. Congressman Grimm is intentionally misleading in asserting that 80 percent of small business owners will lose their plan by 2013.

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Those businesses, rather, will receive a tax credit for up to 35 percent of their premium, and will be able to choose from a variety of cheaper, more competitive plans that will be made available via the Health Care Exchange in 2014. This exchange will include plans modeled after those that members — Congressman Michael Grimm included — select from, and will be available at a premium that is $4,000 lower than small businesses pay currently, according to the Congressional Budget Office. While these small businesses will experience a “change” in plan, they will end up with an enhanced and lower-cost insurance plan with an additional tax credit to further reduce costs.

Promise #2: It will protect Medicare. Congressman Grimm cites only one study in his assertion that the Affordable Care Act will limit the number of people able to enroll in Medicare Advantage. The study, which he does not name, was published by the right wing Heritage Foundation (the same Heritage Foundation that advocated for the individual mandate provision that right-wingers, including Grimm, now despise). Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, enrollment in Medicare Advantage has actually increased by six percent. Lastly, the Affordable Care Act drastically improves Medicare Part D by closing the donut hole and more than halving prescription drug costs over the next decade.

Promise #3: It will not add one dime to our deficit. In the first 10 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit by $143 billion. Congressman Grimm is choosing which facts to point to, citing projections made by former members of the Bush Cabinet, rather than the numbers provided by a nonpartisan budget organization.

Promise #4: It will not raise any of your taxes. Yes, the Affordable Care Act does impose a 10-percent tax increase on the tanning industry. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has moved UV tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category: carcinogenic to humans. So, while Congressman Grimm can gripe about a tax that amounts to roughly two dollars per tanning visit, one would hope he would spend more time warning his constituents about the risks of tanning beds to one’s health rather than one’s wallet. This tax on a health-risk activity is no different than the cigarette tax.

Promise #5: It will lower your premiums by $2,500 per family per year. The Congressional Budget Office reported the estimated cost of an individual plan to be $6,000 in 2016 if we do nothing, compared to $4,540 under the reform. Or, almost 25 percent higher. A year after “Romneycare” was enacted in Massachusetts the average individual plan fell from $8,537 at the end of 2006 to $5,143 in mid-2009, a 40 percent reduction, while the rest of the nation was seeing a 14 percent increase.

The bottom line is this — the article written by Congressman Grimm is an example of politics at its worst. He opted to cite biased studies by outspoken opponents of the Affordable Care Act rather than those provided by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which has no agenda and provides information based on data, not politics.

Jonathan Yedin, a community activist who served as campaign manager for former U.S. Rep. Michael McMahon, has been involved in Bay Ridge civic life for a number of years.

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