President Obama will soon be ending his term in office. To those who have questioned his birth certificate, his citizenship, his religion and his patriotism, I consider you to be racial bigots.  And please don’t resort to your Bible-thumping platitudes — they are an affront to Almighty God.

Currently, there are 45 million uninsured citizens and 18 million more who pay for costly premiums as individuals. Over 54 percent of small businesses that employ 3 to 9 workers do not offer health insurance.

Hospitals are stuck with ministering to millions of people who cannot pay for their care. Medical costs are a major factor in over 50 percent of all personal bankruptcies filed.

We currently rank 31st in the world in life expectancy and 37 percent in infant mortality. The average family premium is $13,375 and for individuals $4,824. Employer-based premiums have doubled in the last 10 years and 55 percent of them have lifetime limits.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you most certainly will be denied coverage or insurance companies will often come up with one when denying a costly procedure. The Republican candidates vow to maintain this current state of affairs.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Law of 2010 will fully start in 2014. Pre-existing conditions and both annual and lifetime limits will disappear.

The private insurance companies will get 32 million new customers. In return they will agree to providing four levels of insurance in insurance exchanges: Bronze (they will pay 60 percent of costs), Silver (70 percent), Gold (80 percent) and Platinum (90 percent).

These insurance exchanges will be offered in every state and subsidies will be given to citizens who can’t afford to pay full price. Initially, most companies with employer-based insurance will continue as present.

However, as bugs are worked out and as the health insurance exchanges mature over time, there will hopefully come a time when everyone can shop on the exchange for health insurance.

Companies will not be saddled with this costly benefit and can start raising wages; employees will no longer have to stay stuck in a job because of fear of losing health benefits.

The “privatize everything” Republicans established Medicare Advantage a while back in an effort to move Medicare recipients away from this “socialized medicine.”

The government is paying 113 percent of medicare rates to subsidize this. Why should some senior citizens get gym membership, vision care, etc. when it is not offered to all seniors? It will be penalized under the law.

So if you hear from our far right friends about drastic cuts in Medicare, you know the story. Half of our country’s healthcare spending is used to treat the sickest 5 percent of the population. We desperately need preventive care and that is a major component of the new law.

After consulting with the medical community, the Secretary of Health has developed a package of essential benefits, such as prescreening for diabetes.

One of them is contraceptives for women. Despite the chauvinistic catcalls from the know-nothing crowd, this access is crucial for family planning and women’s health issues.

The private insurance companies are taking on millions of new clients. They need the perfectly healthy as well as the unhealthy to spread the cost.

No one in this day and age should be able to refuse health insurance coverage. It is a mandate in this law; it will be argued before the Supreme Court at the end of March.

The Affordable Care Act is a major step forward. The constant derision of “Obamacare” these last two years is just another spoke in the far right’s wheel of hate.

William Tunney


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