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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Future of health-care reform in flux

The struggle over health-care reform reached a new level when House Republicans passed a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act for America on Wednesday.

The move is “”basically symbolic in its gesture,”” according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. Nevertheless, the repeal, combined with several lawsuits brought against the act, is sparking conversations about the future of the American health-care system.

Under the provisions of the act, all Americans must purchase health care or pay fines. The act also seeks to limit the ability of insurance companies to deny care or coverage based on pre-existing medical conditions.

Another provision of the act allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26, instead of the previous cutoff at 19. About 30 percent of adults ages 20 to 29 did not have health insurance in 2008, compared to 17 percent of 30 to 64 year olds, according to a National Center for Health Statistics data brief.

Young adults can now stay on their parents’ insurance whether they are married, single, in school or employed. The extended coverage especially helps students who need time to find jobs with benefits after graduation, Gibbs said during a conference call on Tuesday.

“”Allowing young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plans provides a great amount of stability,”” he said.

Nearly 31,000 young adults in Arizona who are currently on their parents’ insurance plans could lose coverage if the bill was repealed, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Erik Lundstrom, president of the UA Young Democrats and a political science sophomore, said students would be negatively affected if the act was repealed.

“”I think it’s really hard to find jobs that give health care benefits right out of college,”” he said. “”They’re not going to get really good health care insurance.””

Tanner Weigel, a sophomore majoring in history and Spanish, said he opposes parts of the bill but generally agrees with allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance.

“”The only slippery slope is at what point do we have people independent and on their own?”” he asked.

Weigel said any attempt to repeal the act would never make it past President Barack Obama’s veto but that the attempt is still important for House Republicans.

“”What it does is it fulfills a voter mandate,”” he said. “”It puts peoples’ votes on record.””

The act is too long to propose individual amendments, Weigel said. He said the complete repeal allows Congress to start from scratch.

“”It’s rather ineffective to propose to cut things out and add these amendments when you have that much,”” he said.

Gibbs said improving upon the current bill is more useful that starting from the beginning.

“”Let’s not throw this entire thing out,”” he said.

Parts of the bill may be under legal scrutiny regardless of the repeal. Christopher Robertson, associate professor of law in the James E. Rogers College of Law, said there are two main legal cases against the Affordable Health Care Act for America.

The first case involves individuals who argue Congress does not have the right to regulate health care.

Weigel said the mandate to purchase insurance is unconstitutional.

“”The government’s fining you if you don’t put yourself in a commercial contract,”” Weigel said. “”I think Congress’s overstepping its boundaries in that regard.””

Robertson said he does not think the case will prevail because the Constitution does not guarantee this type of individual freedom.

“”These challenges to the individual mandate don’t really work,”” he said. “”I think it’s more of a philosophical position that gained some traction.””

Robertson said Medicare has survived in the health care system even though it essentially forces people to purchase it through payroll deductions.

Medicare was also called socialized medicine at first by opponents, said Alison Hughes, interim director of the Rural Health Office in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

“”And now it’s sort of part of our culture,”” she said.

The Affordable Health Care Act for America also regulates state funding of Medicaid, which provides health care for the poor and disabled. Medicaid is funded both federally and at the state level. Robertson said opponents argue the bill encroaches on state sovereignty.

Gov. Jan Brewer and Attorney General Tom Horne are among those challenging its constitutionality.

“”The law is very ambiguous in my mind,”” Robertson said. “”It’s hard to predict the outcome.””

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