Sad to Say, Health Care Issue is Still Alive and Well

Workers with young and growing families suddenly are uncertain about how they are supposed to provide medical care for the whole family.

Mon December 16, 2013 - National Edition
Giles Lambertson

Giles Lambertson.
Giles Lambertson.

Now that skeptics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are feeling vindicated in their belief that Obamacare neither protects nor economizes, the question is, what next? The answer is, probably more of the same, at least for a while.

The hallmark legislation is considered by the administration to be the centerpiece of its accomplishments to date, so it will do everything it can to salvage its healthcare system. Opponents are just as adamant that it isn’t salvageable. Can you say “stalemate?”

Construction industry associations are not sitting idle as the debate continues. Associated General Contractors is calling for reform of Obamacare, which is ironic inasmuch as Obamacare was supposed to be the epitome of reform. The AGC is urging delay of the individual mandate provision, a doing away with the lowered standard of “full-time” employment, a general reduction of paperwork, and a few other things.

Associated Builders and Contractors is focusing on a provision that bars people with tax-deferred accounts from purchasing over-the-counter drugs without a prescription. “The provision that limits coverage of OTC medicines will instead increase costs to the health care system and place new administrative burdens on already over-burdened physician office,” association leaders wrote to two U.S. senators sponsoring legislation to repeal that provision.

For young and older workers in construction, health care is not an abstract issue. Workers with young and growing families suddenly are uncertain about how they are supposed to provide medical care for the whole family. Workers in the mid-to-late stages of their careers suddenly have had a wrench thrown in the gearbox of their medical plans. The shuddering they feel is ominous.

Perhaps the whole issue will be resolved with commonsense reforms that actually stabilize costs without penalizing industry and without requiring citizens young and old to jump through hoops. Hoop-jumping is good exercise, of course, and a health care plus. But gnashing of teeth is not, nor is pulling hair and growing ulcers. There must be a better way. Maybe Washington still will find it.

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