Health reform

5/2/2012

Implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was designed to be gradual. While President Barack Obama's signature health care reform effort was signed into law two years ago, relatively few changes have taken place. Such a pace was necessary to allow enough planning time for all the stakeholders.

It also appears to be granting ample time for all the legal challenges to be resolved -- or at least the more significant ones. A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court is expected by late June regarding the constitutionality of the individual mandate, its severability from the rest of the law, and various other issues.

In the meantime, some provisions of the law are taking effect. Likely most noticeable to the American public have been the ability to keep young adults on their parents' policies until they turn 26, the inability of insurance companies to deny coverage to children because of pre-existing conditions, and the fact policies can't be canceled merely because mistakes were made on applications.

We would hope anybody benefitting from those provisions understand they exist because of the so-called Obamacare that so many of the same individuals are demanding to be repealed.

More positive changes resulting from the Affordable Care Act were announced this week.

On Tuesday, the government announced it was going to distribute $700 million to make capital improvements at almost 400 community health centers nationwide. Five of the centers are in Kansas, where $21 million will be used to expand centers in Salina, Junction City, Wichita, Hutchinson and southeast Kansas.

"For many Americans, community health centers are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases," said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

We're pleased the politics of the health care reform are not adversely affecting decisions regarding the Sunflower State. Kansas, after all, is one of the 26 states challenging the law before the Supreme Court. Kansas also rejected federal money to help set up a mandatory health insurance exchange, and is dragging its feet in implementing other necessary steps.

We don't believe it is fair for Topeka to lobby against ACA while accepting money to improve the five health centers. It smacks of hypocrisy. At the very least, the community centers should refrain from spending any of the $700 million until the legal issues are resolved.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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