The real reason the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should be repealed (and it’s not the one the politicians give)


First, the bad news: Between 1980 and 2009, annual real per capita health expenditures grew by 4.1%. In the same period, per capita GDP (adjusted for inflation) grew by 1.8%.  In other words, health care costs grew faster than the money to pay for them. The inevitable endpoint, if such trends continue, is eloquently demonstrated in the graph from this 2005 study from the Robert Graham Center (a center for the study of health care policy), which projected that an annual US family health insurance premium would equal the average family’s annual income by the year 2025.

Now, the good news: A study in this week’s Annals of Family Medicine updated the projection, taking into account the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the recent slowing of health insurance and wage increases. The new calculations push the date when the family’s premium will equal the family paycheck all the way back to 2033!

The PPACA got a lot of people hopping mad, and in an election year, it has become a huge political hot potato. Many feel it went too far, and therefore should be repealed. However, if the studies mentioned above are even close to accurate, the thing should be repealed, not because it went too far, but because it didn’t go far enough. It provided cosmetic surgery when what the patient needed was a heart transplant.

Many Christian voices have joined the chorus attempting to shout down the PPACA. However, this seems to me to be fiddling while Rome burns, because with or without the PPACA, our health care system is becoming unsustainable, and people — real people, like you and me, and disproportionately the poorer among us — are suffering physically, financially, emotionally, and yes, spiritually, because of the ruin they face from health care costs. And without radical change, more and more will join their ranks.

A large portion of Jesus’ recorded ministry involved healing the sick. The main difference between the sheep and the goats in the Matthew 25 parable is how each treated “the least of these.” It is those “least” that will suffer the most as health care costs become increasingly untenable. Therefore, as Christians, we should be at the forefront of efforts to ethically control healthcare costs and provide some level of basic, dignified healthcare to all. These efforts may or may not entail greater government involvement in health care. The recent controversies over contraceptive coverage show what can happen when the responsibility for health care reform is left solely to the government. But either way, it would reflect well on Jesus Christ if his followers took the lead in ensuring that compassionate health care is within the reach of all people. This will require radical change, as well as self-sacrifice; but who is in a better position to lead the way than the followers of the One who changes lives radically because of his self-sacrifice? The PPACA cannot deliver this; if the PPACA is repealed, it should not because it went too far, but because it didn’t go far enough.

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Janice Benson
Janice Benson
8 years ago

I appreciate your post and I agree the act didnt go far enough, but a move to repeal it will result in no plan at all, just as we had before. I believe a flawed experiment is better than no experiment because our society is not yet ready to make the choices we need to make to create a sensible, cost effective, minimal health package. I hope that when we see the results of our flawed experiment, it will help us make the next steps more sensibly!
Janice Benson- admittedly I am in favor of Single Payer

Joseph Gibes
Joseph Gibes
8 years ago

Janice — Of course you are right, and my meager attempt at irony obfuscated the fact that I don’t think that the act should be repealed unless something better is put into place. My concern is that many (most?) of the people calling for the act’s repeal want to return to what existed before. My point is, don’t call for repeal unless you have something a whole lot better — and I believe that the best potential for something a whole lot better lies within the Church.