The Devil is in the Details

As the details of health care reform come to light, how can we be sure we are on the right path?

The pros and cons of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) have been a subject of debate since it was passed. There is no argument that the public—along with health care professionals—will be affected by the details of this bill as they roll out. Clearly, this bill will also greatly impact our economy. Who can ever forget that infamous Nancy Pelosi comment, “We will have to pass the bill in order to find out what is in it”? So, as our elected representatives grapple with questions of how to revive this country’s economy, health care reform is still a top agenda item.

The problem is how the health care reform “details” are being handled—and how can we have any confidence that we are on the right path? There is real reason to wonder when we learn that the Obama administration recently cut a major planned benefit from the health care law, as reported by The Washington Post. Suddenly, the plan to offer Americans long-term care has been scrapped as “simply unworkable.”

Called the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, this plan would have offered all working Americans a basic lifetime benefit of at least $50 a day in the event of illness or disability. Critics objected that this legislation was both “unsound and unsustainable,” but the supporters projected that this measure would reduce the federal deficit by $86 billion over the next 10 years. Now—19 months later—it looks like the administration and supporters of CLASS were mistaken.

Unfortunately, time has been wasted on big government ideas that simply don’t work. As Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said about this sudden shift, “The Obama administration today acknowledged what they refused to admit when they passed their partisan health bill. The CLASS Act was a budget gimmick that might enhance the numbers on a Washington bureaucrat’s spreadsheet but was destined to fail in the real world.”

It is time to stop such budget gimmicks and hold government accountable to balance their budgets, just as the average American family does. While the measures in the PPACA sound appealing, it is unrealistic to think that nationwide health care can be rolled out with no burden to the economy. As the long-term care benefits example shows, it is clear that budget gimmicks just don’t translate into useful legislation. It is shameful that the complexities of nationwide health care were not examined in a transparent manner and such a partisan bill was passed in the first place. So, we are just finding out now that the devil is in the details.

In this Cough & Cold issue, we are pleased to bring you a host of valuable resources and information so you can face the winter months and help your patients find better health. Please join your colleagues in enjoying Pharmacy Times on iPad, where a wealth of additional multimedia resources can be found. And remember to utilize the free online CE activities that not only bring you health topics in depth, but also provide the opportunity to fulfill your CE requirements.

Thank you for reading!