One year after President Barack Obama's historic health care reform became law, the process is on the right track, according to Dr. Bernard Rosof. The board chairman spoke on the state of health care to an invitation-only crowd Wednesday as part of the Forum in Mineola.
“Quality health care is a fundamental right,” Rosof said. “I believe the act will reinvigorate public health on behalf of individuals, on behalf of work sites, on behalf of the community and on behalf of the nation at large.”
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law March 2010, aims to bring Americans affordable and comprehensive health care while raising the overall health of the population.
“If we focus on better and affordable care, if we focus on improving the health of the population, we have the potential to save up to $35 billion,” Rosof said.
The old system was not sustainable, according to Rosof, who pointed to obvious flaws.
“Health care as we know it now is unaffordable," Rosof said. "It’s inequitable, disparate. We are at a point where it is totally impossible to do nothing.”
Among many provisions under the reform law, patients are given more access to recommended, free preventive services, and coverage is extended to dependent children up to age 26. The law also places an emphasis on consumer protection by banning denials of preexisting conditions, lifetime and most annual limits.
As efforts to refine the law are expected to continue over the next several years, Rosof acknowledged that it still lacks key components to make it completely successful – including lack of clarity on malpractice liability reform. He also addressed the opposition of those who may have economic concerns.
“It is truly understandable that people are concerned about the governmental cost for private sector health care products and services,” he said, “but the cost of repealing the law is estimated to result in a net increase of federal budget deficits of $230 billion, whereas the Affordable Care Act has been estimated to reduce the deficits by $132 billion.”
Although the act has not been implemented long enough to yield accurate enough results, Rosof alluded to the success of the Massachusetts statewide health care reform. Like the federal reform law, the commonwealth’s plan requires residents to buy insurance and employers to offer it or pay the fee.
Since the reform was enacted in Massachusetts, the state has achieved its goal of providing nearly universal coverage in which 98 percent of all residents were insured last year in 2010, Rosof said.
“Despite what the critics claim, the state’s program for universal coverage is really working,” he said. “That has come with very minimal fiscal strain. The real lesson is that health care reform can work at a state level and the national law should work as well or perhaps even better.”