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Opinion Letters Some facts about the Affordable Care Act

When Hillary Clinton proposed a government-run, single- payer system to solve our health care crisis, Republicans responded by proposing a private insurance system based on an individual mandate. Governor Romney then adopted this insurance proposal for Massachusetts with great success. It was the conservative approach based on the free market and designed to save taxpayers from out-of-control health care costs. That plan was the basis for the Affordable Care Act; ObamaCare.

Conservatives hate big government, almost as much as they dislike big government deficits. Their plan attacked both problems. Private insurance companies ran the system and made a profit. Out-of-control health care costs were curbed.

Money is the key. The United States pays almost twice as much for health care than any other industrialized country, and yet we have much poorer health outcomes, and fewer people covered. Our current system was broken, and would have soon bankrupted the country.

The Affordable Care Act is not something progressive Democrats wanted. What they wanted was a government-run single-payer plan. What we got was a private, for profit, insurance plan that everybody has to join; the "Individual Mandate." As the very conservative Heritage Foundation said, the key is personal responsibility. Everybody has to pull their own weight, no free rides.

What you don't hear through the media noise surrounding the now repaired web site, is the fact that the ACA is already helping to reduce health care cost inflation, to a 50- year low. That fact alone will do more to reduce our long term deficit than any short term cut in spending.

Congress spent over a year crafting this law. It is complex because it is full of compromises to satisfy all the stake holders. Its success to some extent will depend on the cooperation of all involved. It is clear that Republicans are doing everything possible to make it fail, even though it was their idea.

Whether this law is good for you individually may depend on who is your governor. Democratic lead states created their own web sites, expanded Medicaid and in general promoted competition between insurance carriers. In those states there has been much success. Insurance rates have been below projections, and the working poor have the possibility of health care insurance for the first time.

In Republican states like North Carolina the insurance rates have been higher because of the state's failure to encourage completion. The state’s failure to expand Medicaid to over 500,000 uninsured has caused a financial crisis for many hospitals. One in four uninsured Macon residents will continue to use the emergency room for basic care, at great cost to all of us. I am sure that includes someone you know.

As Mitt Romney said of the "individual mandate" in 2006, the plan must include "... the personal responsibility principal, that is essential to bring health care cost down for everyone and getting everyone the health insurance they deserve and need."

Louis Vitale — Franklin, N.C.

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